Review: Knocked Up (2006)

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Knocked Up (2006)

Directed by: Judd Apatow | 129 minutes | drama, comedy, romance | Actors: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, Charlyne Yi, Iris Apatow, Maude Apatow, Joanna Kerns, Harold Ramis, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ken Jeong, Craig Robinson, Tim Bagley, Loudon Wainwright III, Stephanie Mnookin, Adam Scott, JP Manoux, Ana Mercedes

Judd Apatow, judging from his early films, likes titles that leave nothing to the imagination. While debut ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’ was about a 40-year-old virgin, successor ‘Knocked Up’ (pregnant) is about an ambitious young girl who accidentally becomes pregnant after a one-night stand. After Allison has decided to keep the child, she makes an effort to get to know the begetter, the amiable good-for-nothing Ben.

Like ‘The 40 Year Old Virgin’, ‘Knocked Up’ has a quirky mix of romance, drama-light and infectious humor. That humor is sometimes of the adolescent kind, but also contains more intelligent jokes and pop-cultural winks. We find the nicest jokes in the scenes with Ben’s roommates, twenty-year-old teenagers who live together in a commune where they smoke weed, party, fiddle and also try to get their own website off the ground. And what would that website be about anyway? On the face of it, Ben’s friends are the negative mirror image of Allison’s environment, where everything runs smoothly. But Allison’s settled sister and brother-in-law aren’t really grown up any more than that. The way in which they deal with their difficulties is illustrative. They rely on Google for the simple problems, they fall back on Oprah for the hard ones, and they run for dancing or other entertainment for the most difficult. Talking to each other is hardly an option.

It’s not hard to sympathize with those characters. Essentially, Allison and Ben are well-meaning youngsters, who have enough bad qualities but are also fully aware of them. Despite having no idea what to do with each other and with that future baby, they try their best to make something out of it, as sincere as they are clumsy. It’s clear that director and screenwriter Apatow completely sees through and cares about these characters, without trying to make them heroes or anti-heroes. It is precisely their humanity that makes Ben and Allison an extremely touching film couple. It also ensures that the more serious moments hit surprisingly hard.

The flawless acting, a nice soundtrack and a few unforgettable scenes also ensure that ‘Knocked Up’ has become one of the better mainstream comedies of recent years. A warm-blooded film that both entertains and moves, without the drama ever becoming too sentimental or the humor too rancid. A comical and sympathetic love baby of which Hollywood can safely give birth to some more in the coming years.

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