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Knocked Up

Review Written by: Estefan Ellison
Film: A
What the MPAA Rating should be: R (for language, drug use and sexual content)

Directed by: Judd Apatow
Written by: Judd Apatow
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson and Clayton Townsend
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Harold Ramis
Studio: Universal Pictures

Judd Apatow's first film took the simple idea of a 40 year old virgin and expanded it into a sweet and funny tale that was more than just a one-joke movie. His second film Knocked Up takes a more realistic route by showing what would happen if a one-night stand actually made somebody pregnant. Yet, like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Apatow knocks it out of the park, proving that he could rival Mel Brooks as the best living comedic filmmaker in North America. What pushes this film above the typical R-rated sex comedy is the fact that Apatow spends just as much time creating a believable script as he does bringing the audience to uncontrollable laughter. He also fills the screen with likable actors, who bring plenty of charisma to Knocked Up. Without them, it certainly wouldn't have been the same film.

Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is an unemployed slacker, who just enjoys smoking marijuana and developing a website on film pornography. Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) has just been promoted by E! News to be an on-air anchorwoman and to celebrate, she goes to a night club with her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann). There, she gets drunk and meets Ben and they both go home and sleep together. After parting ways the following morning, Allison calls Ben a couple of weeks later to announce that she is pregnant with his child. Deciding against having an abortion, the two bachelors try to get to know each other and sure enough (as this is a Hollywood film), the two grow very close. Meanwhile, there is a subplot involving Debbie and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd), who is beginning to get bored of his marriage and soon forms a bond with Ben. As mentioned before, this is a Hollywood film, but doesn't completely follow the typical format of an American romantic comedy and that is where the film succeeds above similar films.

Judd Apatow, much like he did with The 40 Year Old Virgin, pushes the limits of his "R" rating and goes all the way, showing absolutely everything. Not only are there the usual breast shots and profanity-laced rants heard in R-rated sex comedies, but also hundreds of uses of drugs (smoked in ways I have never seen before), vomiting and "doggie-style." There is even a pregnancy scene that shows that you don't need $250 million to create realistic special effects. Yet, among the crude scenes, there are also those sweet moments which Apatow manages to keep from getting over-long and sappy. The scenes between Rogen and Heigl certainly display Apatow's ability to write great romantic dialogue, but this is surprisingly proved even more so in the parts where Rogen and Rudd converse. The more time that Ben spends with Pete, the more it dawns on him what the future will be like for him when he and Allison have a family. Even though it is not shown on screen, we can tell through all of the subtle gestures that Ben thinks he will be as boring and lifeless as Pete has become.

This, of course, leads to why the film is such a major success: the performances. Apatow does not cast any devilishly handsome fellows in the roles and the actors he chooses are natural and manage to slide in their parts easily. Seth Rogen is not a De Niro or a Nicholson and nor does he need to be. He gives Ben a likable persona and even after two hours, we're still not tired of him. Ben is thrust into a situation that many people go through and Rogen doesn't play the part as over the top. He is crude and vulgar when he needs to be and he is sweet and charming when necessary. Katherine Heigl is a good match-up with Rogen, as she allows us to believe she actually is pregnant and not an actress in a fat suit. The character changes throughout the film, due to hormones and cravings, and Heigl plays it very well. Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd give ample support as the film's only married couple and they're both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

For me, the comic delights of the film are the four actors playing Ben's best friends. All of them most likely playing themselves, Apatow doesn't overdo them and they don't enter the scene when un-needed. They are the tasty side dish to Rogen and Heigl's steak. Harold Ramis, Steve Carell, Ryan Seacrest and James Franco drop in as well for some very funny cameo appearances. Their scenes are short so they don't overstay their welcomes. Apatow gives them a rant and they're on their way. Knocked Up is one of those rare modern American comedies that manages to be both side-splitting and heart-breaking and without using the aide of humoungou visual effects and is certainly worth the price of admission.

Katherine Heigl gets pregnant with Seth Rogen's seed in Knocked Up.
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