|By Matt Jones||Thursday, 14 Jun 2007|
*DISCLAIMER: Matt Jones is an avowed Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen fan.*
My most anticipated movie of 2007 finally arrived June 1. Knocked Up is the comedy event of the summer, from the guy who brought you The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Judd Apatow has made a living in the recent past on writing raunchy yet heartfelt comedies, whether they be TV shows that get cancelled too soon (Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared) or the aforementioned 40YOV. Seth Rogen was a scene stealer in all of those, from winning 87 dollars in quarters (F&G) to the guy talking about a girl and a horse (40YOV). This time, he is the scene, as the movie revolves around a young, non-aspiring guy who somehow plants the seed in one hot as hell TV producer (Katherine Hiegl).
So, let’s get the plot out of the way, even though I kinda just did. Heigl’s character is moving up in the world of television and as the movie starts, she is living with her sister (Leslie Mann, Apatow’s real life wife) and brother in law (Paul Rudd, always awesome) and their two kids. She is given a promotion to be on camera talent, and to celebrate, she goes out to a bar. Rogen’s character is living with his stoner friends (Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, and Jay Baruchel, all former Apatow TV show/movie alums) and his life revolves around getting high and starting a porn site where they tell you when a famous actress gets naked. They meet, somehow get together, shack up for the night, and then it all ends kinda sourly, like it would in real life. Except this time, the bitch gets preggers. After deciding that she will not get an abortion, the movie goes on as Rogen and Heigl decide that they could at least give a relationship a shot for the baby. There are ups and downs, pot is smoked, pink eye goes around, and mushrooms are consumed. All in all, normal stuff.
Nah, seriously, it does chronicle their tumultuous relationship very well, and actually has some really, really awkward moments, which is good because it shows that these aren’t just simply comedic templates but people with real feelings and real goals and ambitions. The characters that tend to be underdeveloped are (sadly) Rogen’s roommates, for they get about 20 minutes total air time. I HOPE to GOD they have a ton of deleted footage, because a lot of the funniest moments come when these guys are on the screen. And for those of us who have been Apatow fans, when the group of friends are out there together, it’s like you’re just sitting on the couch with them, watching them be naturally funny.
What’s pretty amazing is that the movie is really long, but doesn’t really feel like it is too long. It comes close at times, and I can think of things they should have edited out of the movie, but at no point do you ever think “Man, will this movie ever end?” The comic timing and beats stay strong throughout, and everyone gets their proper time to be funny.
The four characters who actually get serious are Rogen, Heigl, Mann and Rudd. They all have their funny moments, especially when Rudd and Rogen go to Vegas and do shrooms, but they also get serious at times. Mann and Rudd’s relationship in the movie is the source of most of the awkwardness, as you see not just an Everybody Loves Raymond kind of marriage, but one that really scares the shit out of Rogen and Heigl, hindering their possible progress at cementing a relationship of their own. Not being anywhere near close to marriage myself, I still understood many of the fears and hopes the young couple had, so I can only imagine how close to home it is for those who have been in a very serious relationship.
Being that this is a comedy, the most important part is that the characters are likeable and the comedy is strong. They most certainly are and it most certainly is. But the biggest question, of course, is whether this movie is better than 40YOV, which was my movie of 2005 along with Batman Begins. My answer is…not quite.
Here’s why: In 40 Year Old Virgin, it was centered on Steve Carrell’s character and the story followed him and him alone. In Knocked Up, it feels like you have two main veins of plot going on, both Rogen’s character and Heigl’s character. At times, there is one strong story, but it kind of comes together then branches out and repeats. What that ends up doing is forcing you to choose what storyline you care more about, and clearly, I cared more about Rogen’s and his buddies’s storyline. Not that Heigl’s storyline was weak or anything, but I came in caring and knowing more about the guys. This, along with the fact that I think there were more funny situations in 40YOV rather than simply normal situations with funny dialogue that both had, puts 40YOV above Knocked Up.
But this is not a knock on Knocked Up. (Wow, what a bad joke.) It is still far and away the funniest movie I’ve seen this year, right up there with 300 as the best movie I’ve seen this year, and a definite must see for any fans of good comedy. I’m only going to give this a Great for the theatrical run, but with more comedy gold on the DVD, this one could creep up to a Classic easily.