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Alan TudykAlan Tudyk - "Knocked Up" Movie - Geekmonthly.com Review
Wednesday 30 May 2007, by Webmaster
You’ll probably hear a lot of hyperbole over the next few weeks from the usual suspects; you know those film “critics” who you’ve never read anywhere but in a print ad on opening weekend touting the latest studio release as “the funniest movie of the millennia” or “300 times funnier than anything else this year.” Well, guess what, in the case of Knocked Up, it’s actually true. The brainchild of Freaks & Geeks auteur, Judd Apatow and a follow-up to his hilarious 2005 film, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up is both obscenely funny and emotionally resonant at the same time. Not unlike Virgin, Apatow has an incredible knack of being able to extricate genuine pathos and real emotional depth from the shallowest and, at time, most loathsome of characters.
The premise is a simple one: a one-night stand between a shallow and sophomoric slacker, Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) and a sophisticated, sexy beauty, Allison Scott, played to perfection by Grey’s Anatomy Katherine Heigl, leads to an unwanted pregnancy and now this unlikeliest of couples must decide if they can make a real relationship work. You know where this comedy is going from the outset, but getting there is the real fun working both as a romantic comedy and a coming of age story at the same time.
Rogen, is clearly not your typical leading man and it’s hard to imagine without the success of Virgin if Apatow would have had the clout to get the rolly-polly Rogen cast in the lead of a studio film. But what’s great about the cherubic and unkempt Rogen, who I’ve found delightfully acerbic ever since his memorable days in Freaks, is he’s not afraid to be an ass and completely unlikable on screen, which is why in his moments of redemption and contrition, he’s that much more real and endearing. And while there’s a genuine romantic chemistry that develops between this truly odd couple, it never feels forced or cloying. Fortunately, Apatow never let’s the action get too saccharine and there are some genuinely vitriolic and very real exchanges between the couple as they wrestle with whether they can make their relationship work. Few films have provided a better examination of adult relationships and gender issues between men and women and the seemingly impossible to reconcile perceptions of both about the other. Surprisingly, there’s as much juice to the story of Paul Rudd’s morose Pete and his neurotic wife, Debbie, played by Apatow’s real life spouse, Leslie Mann, as there is to Ben and Allison’s story and some real comic dividends Apatow unearths in their minefield of their relationship.
And not unlike Virgin, Apatow’s pop culture references are even more fast and furious here, none more side-splittingly hilarious than a meltdown by Ryan Seacrest on the set of his E! Entertainment show.
But comic asides about Back to the Future, Star Wars and, even, Wild Things abound as well - although it’s The Office’s Craig Robinson who almost walks away with the movie in a brief, but achingly funny cameo as a put-upon club bouncer.
In a way, it would not be unfair to brand Apatow as a contemporary inheritor of the mantle of the greats like Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch, whose lack of showy directorial style only helped service their often high concept stories and, showcase their brilliant ensemble of oddballs and goofs; in this case culled from Apatow’s brilliant, but largely underappreciated television oeuvre including Freaks & Geeks Jason Segel, Martin Starr and, in a hilarious cameo, James Franco as well as Undeclared’s Jay Baruchel and Laudon Wainwright, who are all superbly memorable - even in the smallest of roles.
Some may find that Knocked Up overstays its welcome as it runs a little long for a comedy with a running time of over two hours, but as a new father myself I savored every minute of this raw and rewarding work of comic genius by Judd Apatow - and can’t wait to see it again.