2 hours, 9 minutes
This week’s pick, the almost-but-not-really raunchy sex comedy “Knocked Up,” is certainly not the newest film out there. That would have been the sweet-looking “Evan Almighty,” a film guaranteed not to challenge anything but your tolerance for cute animal jokes. I skipped that, although I like Steve Carell, and instead went for the more challenging entry. Challenging because, for me, this seemingly wacky comedy is actually relevant. My wife and I are expecting our first child in December (thank you, thank you) and so I watched this film with a completely different perspective. The experience was funny, at times, educational, and more than a little scary.
Seth Rogan plays Ben Stone, a lovable loser of the first order. He and his buddies are living a slacker’s paradise. They share a run-down house in L.A., where they smoke pot, party and occasionally work on their brainchild a Web site that tracks the nude scenes of all your favorite actresses.
When he and the guys go out to a club one night, a simple sweet gesture earns him the attention of beautiful up-and-coming television producer Alison Scott. What starts as dancing and drinking soon becomes much more and the couple part ways in the morning, assuming they will never see each other again.
What follows is a grand comic saga, including everything you ever wanted to know about pregnancy, not only the physical end of it, but the social and personal, as well.
“Knocked Up” presents itself as silly escapist entertainment and then sucker-punches you with a deeply emotional and sentimental core.
Director Judd Apatow, who first surprised us with the sweetly hilarious “40-Year-Old Virgin,” is proving himself to be the go-to guy for comedies that expertly mix the high-brow and the low. The characters, for the most part, feel like they could be real people, rather than just cardboard cutouts. There are no villains here, and no easy yet ridiculous plot twists to hang unbelievable conclusions on. Rather, what the movie offers is a two-hour look at one of the most exhilarating, traumatic and commonly-experienced nine months of human existence.
Not everything that happens in the movie is experienced by everybody (thank God) but it’s guaranteed that it’s all been experienced by somebody. It’s this that makes this film so readily accessible.
Granted, it’s not for everybody. The comic-relief, provided by Ben’s stoner buddies, is pretty rough, though mostly funny. This is definitely an R-rated comedy, both for nudity and some fairly gratuitous language. The nudity fits comically into the story, but the language is pretty excessive. Not that I’m a prude with virgin ears or anything, but in a film that ascribes to portray the comedy extant in real life, you’d think you’d want dialogue that is a little more like people really talk. Such rampant and casual use of the F-word is, in my experience, not nearly so common as the writers and producers seem to think, but then I’ve never lived with stoners in L.A., so maybe I don’t know.
The language, however, didn’t bother me as much as one scene in particular, where two characters go on a ’shroom binge in Vegas. Again, it’s not the content necessarily that got me, but the fact that it didn’t fit. It irks me because “Knocked Up” is so much better than it looks, and the small problems loom large in light of the rest of the movie.
The performances are good all the way across the board, especially in the case of the two leads: Rogan and “Grey’s Anatomy” star Katherine Heigl. Also good in smaller roles are the dysfunctional married couple Pete and Debbie played perfectly by Leslie Mann and the always funny Paul Rudd.
Mann, who had a relatively tiny part in Apatow’s previous “Virgin,” turns in a beautiful performance here playing a woman at the end of her rope, trying to maintain her youth and be an adult all at the same time. Were this film released at a time to anticipate any awards, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see her as a Best Supporting Actress candidate.
I enjoyed this film, though I have to say a lot of it made me nervous. You’re watching a process that is meant to take time; time to prepare ourselves, time to learn what to expect, time to even figure out what questions to ask. To view it sped up into a two-hour package can be a little disorienting, especially if you’re right in the middle of said process. Luckily, “Knocked Up” gives equal time to the joy as to the terror and leaves you with the feeling that, in the end, it’s going to be all right. Grade: A-
“Knocked Up” is rated R for rough language, crude humor, nudity, and sexual situations.
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.
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