Monday, June 18, 2007

Knocked Up

Welcome to Rob's House of Delayed Movie Reviews. If you're still wondering if a movie is any good two weeks after it comes out, this is the place for you.

Knocked Up has hundreds of curse words, numerous scenes featuring drug use, and even a shot of a baby's head coming out of its mother. Definitely an adult comedy, and yet it's still careful not to offend anyone when discussing the possibility of terminating a pregnancy.

Everyone knows the premise by now: Up and coming TV personality Allison (Katharine Heigl) unexpectedly becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with goofy slacker Ben (Seth Rogen). We all know she will choose to have the baby; the movie would be about 20 minutes if she didn't. Yet there's still something amiss in the way the script avoids ever actually saying the word "abortion." Some of Ben's stoner friends make jokes about "the big A" or "rhymes with shashsmorshion." Allison's mother advises her to "take care of it."

It reeks of focus group-induced cowardice, so Knocked Up is lucky to be funny and charming enough that it didn't bother me until a few hours after I had seen it. The film is written and directed by Judd Apatow, who hit box-office paydirt and made Steve Carell a star with The 40 Year Old Virgin. Knocked Up has the same combination of crude humor and romance that gives this director's work such a wide appeal.

Apatow's dialogue is solid: it's full of ingenious and hilarious pop-culture references and rarely feels contrived. A lot of credit also has to go to the two leads. Heigl's character displays a full spectrum of emotion throughout the movie, and she doesn't miss a beat. Rogen, who played one of Carell's rambunctious friends in Virgin, is suberb as well. In several scenes, Ben acts like a complete idiot, but Rogen is always able to keep him likeable and show the character's inner decency.

There's also an excellent subplot about the marriage between Allison's neurotic sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and her caustic husband Pete (Paul Rudd). Their marital woes are so detailed and interesting that you could almost write a whole movie about them.

Like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up , which runs over two hours, is much longer than it has to be. Apatow's pacing has improved, (Virgin didn't really have much of a story until the second half) but it does begin to drag as it goes on. But if Pirates III can go on for three hours and still not have much actual substance, I think we can give this genial, timely, and yes romantic, comedy some extra time.

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