Knocked Up **
Directed by Judd Apatow
Written by Judd Apatow
Katherine Heigl as Alison Scott
Seth Rogen as Ben Stone
Paul Rudd as Pete
Leslie Mann as Debbie
Jay Baruchel as Jay
Jonah Hill as Jonah
Jason Segel as Jason
Martin Starr as Martin
Alan Tudyk as Jack
Kristen Wiig as Jill
132 Minutes(Rated R for Sexual Content, Drug Use, and Language.)
Two years ago, Judd Apatow managed to make one of the years funniest, raunchiest, and sweetest films "The 40 Year Old Virgin." And now using a similar formula, some of the same actors, and an even longer running time, he made the weaker, but still amusing "Knocked Up." This time he places Seth Rogen in the main actors chair. If you can't place him, he was Cal in "The 40 Year Old Virgin," the curly haired, pot smoking "writer," which is not so far from who he plays here.
Rogen plays Ben Stone, a curly haired, pot smoking, unemployed slacker. He lives with about six other guys, and they all are working on their "get rich" idea. Make a website recording the nude scenes from every celebrity and then telling people how long into the film the nude scene is. While this does already exist with Mr. Skin (which the movie points out), they do not know that and plan on becoming rich. One night at a bar, Ben meets Alison, a young woman working on the E! channel who has been chosen to be the host of "On Camera." While out celebrating with her sister Debbie, stuck in a rut marriage with Pete and her two children, Allison and Ben cross paths, sleep together for the night, and then part ways planning on never seeing each other again. Until she gets pregnant. She makes the right choice and talks to Ben about it, who decides to be involved with the child. And they two try to get to know one another, forming a strange kind of a loving relationship. Are they loving each other because they should for the sake of the child, or are they really falling in love? And Ben tries to grow up and this is the perfect chance for him to do it.
"Knocked Up" is certainly the years most quotable film, with a winning line just about every thirty seconds. The best showcase for this comes from a running joke involving one of the Ben's friends. He has a long hair and a beard, but cannot shave it for a year because of a bet. The only catch is that his friends are able to make fun of the beard as much as they want until he decides to shave it because he cannot take anymore torture. This leads to them calling him things like "Charlie Manson," "late John Lennon," and "the shoe bomber," among many others-delivered rapidly fast so you almost miss them all. All of Ben's friends are terrific, not given a character name but just named after themselves. Actors like Jason Segel, who steals the show on his TV show "How I Met Your Mother," and Jonah Hill who is always in films for about a minute, are able to shine here. I can commend Apatow for making it both a hilarious comedy and a sweet romance flick, although it is not done as well as "Virgin." "Knocked Up" is far too long, clocking in at two hours and ten minutes, and twenty minutes could have easily been trimmed. I can't imagine an unrated DVD for this, which could go on to almost three hours. With the improvisational skills this cast has, I am sure there is enough material to make a second film.
Along with the running time being a problem there is also Apatow's direction and editing, which was a problem in "Virgin." He has not grown, creating a strange flow in the story. At times Ben and Alison loved each other, and then times they did not, and I never really saw any natural development. I think the problem does come from the strong improv on the cast, and I am sure that he found it hard to part with some of the material over others. He needs to learn how to do that, and only bring on the best of the best instead of trying to give out the whole cake. While "Knocked Up" is one of the years consistently funny films, Apatow needs to try and work better behind the camera and his television show past is often highlighted more than serious film career. If he was as good with that as he is with comedy, I would seriously hold him in higher regard. "Knocked Up" will be around throughout the summer, and easily into the start of the fall. This has strong legs, and I wouldn't be surprised if it tops the box office at least once in its long future career.