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Where Babies Come From
by Matt Forsman on Jun 01, 2007
In 2005, we were blessed with one of the most brilliantly conceived comedies ever in writer/director Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin. Two years later and Apatow is back with Knocked Up. The premise of Apatow’s latest is perhaps as absurd as his directorial debut 2 years ago. In short, a deadbeat stoner somehow manages a one night stand with a driven, gorgeous blonde and naturally, she ends up "knocked up".
You truly couldn’t pick two people more ill suited to date let alone parent a child. Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) spends most of his days getting stoned, working on a soft core porn website, and engaging in various bizarre (and degrading) games with his housemates. In contrast, Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is a relatively together, attractive, career oriented woman who works for E!. But, apparently all it takes is a few too many drinks for opposites to attract...and consummate a child.
Rather than going the easy route and simply opting for an abortion, Allison decides to keep the child. Ben, remarkably enough decides he wants to not only play a substantive role in raising the child, but wants to try to develop a relationship with Allison. What evolves is one of the more offbeat romantic comedies ever seen on the silver screen.
Seth Rogen gets an opportunity to shine as the male lead Ben Stone. Rogen had more than his fair share of hilarious moments in The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up is a role that he’s perfectly suited for. Physically, he bears more than a passing resemblance to a deadbeat stoner. Rogen is the kind of actor who you could easily imagine smoking a bowl and laughing your ass off with. So, his turn as Ben Stone(r?) is no real stretch and he does a convincing job.
Katherine Heigl in effect plays the "straight (wo)man" in Knocked Up and her performance as Allison is not bad, but it pales in comparison to Rogen and some of the other supporting cast members (see Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill). It’s also a bit challenging to believe that Allison would: A) Have a one night stand with Ben to begin with and B) Be open to the idea of having a relationship with Ben after getting knocked up. That being said, neither of these issues is really Katherine’s fault, it’s the hand she was dealt.
Following up a comedic gem like The 40 Year Old Virgin is daunting to say the least. Apatow’s film directorial debut was brilliantly conceived, written, and performed from start to finish. The premise behind Knocked Up is interesting and awkward, which is a good start. Apatow penned a great script that has no shortage of funny moments. Seth Rogen and his comedic compatriots shine for the most part.
But, what prevents Knocked Up from being at the same level of a film like The 40 Year Old Virgin is that it’s just terribly difficult to believe that Ben and Allison would have a one night stand to begin with and it’s even more difficult to believe they would try to have a relationship upon learning that Allison is knocked up.
Granted, the idea of a 40-year old virgin may be pretty implausible, but it’s not nearly as implausible as what happens in Knocked Up. That being said, the film is solidly entertaining and has a tremendous number of laughs that almost make it possible to overlook the film’s shortcomings.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
by Matt Forsman on Jun 01, 2007
images courtesy of Universal Pictures
Katherine Heigl as Alison and Leslie Mann as Debbie
Charlyne Yi as Jodi, Martin Starr as Martin, Jonah Hill as Jonah and Seth Rogen as Ben