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KNOCKED UP (2007) (***1/2)

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In his second feature film following THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, Judd Apatow is becoming a master at combining bawdy humor with real characters. With VIRGIN, he was able to craft a laugh out loud funny film based around a realistic central character, who in less skilled hands could have been a caricature. Now in KNOCKED UP, he takes a plot that has been done many times before and makes it feel fresh and original, mainly due to the contemporary feel.

Ben Stone (Seth Rogen, THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN) is the quintessential slacker. He lives in a house with his friends, decorated like a freshman dorm room. He's living off a small savings and is building a website that tells people what movies feature nude scenes of their favorite stars. Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl, TV's GREY ANATOMY) is the exact opposite. She is a young professional, quickly climbing the ranks on the E! cable network. To celebrate her promotion to an on-air correspondent, she and her older married, sister Debbie (Leslie Mann, THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN) go out to a club where Alison meets Ben and the evening ends with the pair hooking up. A few weeks later Alison discovers that this one-night stand has resulted in her getting pregnant. Now Alison and Ben, who barely know each other, try to give a relationship a shot as they both prepare for unexpected parenthood. During the process, Ben will get some good and not so good guidance from Debbie's husband Pete (Paul Rudd, THE SHAPE OF THINGS).

The best part of this film is that it feels so of the now. Ben and his friends are extreme slackers, but not outside the realm of "yeah, I know a guy like that." Some of the plot plays out the way we expect it to, but the "how" is what makes this story stand out. Weaved within the juvenile behavior of Ben and Co., there are many poignant moments dealing with relationships, responsibility and the male-female divide. The characters' reactions are not driven by plot. Misunderstandings are not just plot devices, but conflicts between different personalities. Ben and Alison have some very real fights; the kind where hurtful things are said. They also are able to develop a charming chemistry that makes us believe, however unlikely, a tall, strikingly beautiful blonde could fall for a cubby, curly-haired loser.

By the two-thirds point, one will be screaming at Ben and his pals to just grow up, which makes some of the genital jokes toward the end less effective. Nonetheless, the film will make you laugh unexpectedly from beginning to end. The best laughs are the ones of acknowledgement, where we laugh at how right they get it.

Rick DeMott's picture

Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks