After young up and coming TV reporter Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) gets promoted she heads out to celebrate with her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann). She ends up having a drunken one night stand with an unemployed, pot smoking; man child called Ben (Seth Rogan) and a few weeks later discovers that she is pregnant. Knocked Up follows the nine months of pregnancy and the difficulties faced by unprepared soon to be parents Ben and Allison and married couple Debbie and Pete (Paul Rudd).
I saw Knocked Up on a transatlantic flight a few years ago and remembered enjoying it but remembered little of it. With a sort of sequel This is 40 released this month I thought I’d go back and give the film a second watch. For me it is average in terms of laughs for a Judd Apatow produced film but considering his films can be very hit and miss this is one of the most entertaining and also sweetest.
There is a lot of comedy in Knocked Up but I rarely found it funny. Rather, it just washed over me. It wasn’t unfunny either, it was just happening. I only laughed out loud twice and this happened when Allison tells Ben she is pregnant (“I’m pregnant” “Fuck off”.) and when Ben and Pete are high on mushrooms. The rest of the time I just watched with an occasional smile on my face. I enjoyed spending time with the characters and seeing Ben and his friends sit around, watching movies and smoke pot all day made me wish that I could get away with doing that. They had pretty much the perfect life. Their making fun of each other and general joking around was fun to watch but luckily it didn’t become overbearing. I also really liked the relationship between Rudd’s Pete and Rogan’s Ben. They made a great team and the Vegas scenes are amongst the funniest.
The friendship type of relationships were typical Apatow territory but when it came to the man/woman relationships it seemed like Apatow was more out of his depth. There are good moments and some decent drama but it always feels as though the Director is simply riding the comic waves and waiting until he can get back to the guys. The female characters also suffer from being stereotyped as angry, grumpy etc whereas the guys are happy, funny, layabouts. Despite the problems though and the fact that you know things will work out in the end, the final birthing scenes made me broody and were very sweet and dare I say it, a bit emotional.
The writing might not be brilliant but there are some good lines and the movie makes use of some great comic actors. The likes of Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and Bill Hader are usually fun to watch and are all good here. Seth Rogan plays the Seth Rogan character well and is the sort of guy you’d want as a friend. Katherine Heigl is fine but always looks to be on the outside of an in joke and Leslie Mann has some good moments. The stand out though is Paul Rudd who has one of the best character arcs and is usually great, even when he’s in terrible films (see Wanderlust). It’s not surprising that Rudd and Mann have got a spin off in This is 40, I felt as though there was more that could be rung out of their characters and they made a decent screen duo.
Overall Knocked Up is a more than adequate film. I found more drama than comedy but liked the time I spent with the characters and considering some of Apatow’s recent output it didn’t make me want to hurt people so I’d call that a success.
- Since "knocked up" doesn't mean anything in most languages, the film's translation in Russia is "A little bit pregnant." In Brazil it's "Slightly Pregnant". In Italy it's 'Very Pregnant' ('Molto Incinta'). In Portugal it's "Bloody Bad Luck".
- Katherine Heigl has stated on the record that she believes the film is sexist.
- Anne Hathaway was originally cast as Alison Scott but left due to 'creative differences'. Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Claire Danes, Uma Therman and Rene Zellweger all dropped out subsequently.