Monday, June 11, 2007

Knocked Up (2007)

Knocked Up (2007) is an attempt to find humor in a baby resulting from a one night stand and how the participants deal with it.

There are a lot of laughs throughout the movie. In fact, there are entire scenes that are so laugh-laden you are hard-pressed to catch all the dialogue. Those scenes are brilliant.

However, it also attempts to have somewhat of a "real-life" feel with scenes people might recognize. Some of them are incredibly intense. Perhaps the premiere example is where Alison (Katherine Heigl) is talking to her mother about what to do. Her mother coldly, dispassionately explains it is not even worth debating. She would be ruining her career and life so just go have an abortion. Then, she explains, later she could follow her sister's example and "have a real baby". This cold-blooded, cruel statement is only accentuated by its placement, directly following the first sonogram where they see the babies' hearbeat. The juxtaposition of a fresh, vulnerable life in the first scene with the uncaring "Your career is more important than a baby" of the mother makes a powerful pro-life statement that seems oddly misplaced in this movie.

The movie is enjoyable because of the strong story line and abundant laughs. Heigl is extremely easy on the eyes and receives plenty of screen time to enjoy her in. There is, however, one area in which the movie falls dreadfully short; likable characters.

Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) and his slacker loser pals hang out by a scum-covered swimming pool doing pretty much nothing of consequence. Their lives revolve around searching for nudity in non-pornographic movies, playing games that all seem to revolve around landing the opponent in the scum-covered pool, and getting stoned. Being stoned is the joke and it returns over and over and over and over until not only are you sick of it but you start to feel a bit stoned yourself just from the repetitiveness.

His friends spend their time mocking each other and watching movies where female breasts or buttocks are displayed. It is never clear from whence they garner the money they spend relatively lavishly.

Meanwhile, Alison lives in a guest house behind the large, well-appointed house of her sister and brother-in law....a couple who are constantly bickering. The sister is controlling, complaining, obnoxious, and one point she explains to Alison that men need to be trained...the clear allusion is that no man is acceptable as he is and the role of the woman is to teach him how to follow orders and do as commanded in order to be, at best, acceptable. And that is her MOST likable moment...

The first meeting makes sense. Ben purchases beers for the girls at a crowded bar which leads to dancing. While drunk they have sex and, in their drunken state, miscommunication leads to a lack of condoms which of course allows the story to develop. The next morning they have breakfast while sober. This does not go well for Ben who manages to get off numerous sexist blasts among his welter of other boorish comments. As she grows ever more shocked and revolted he grows progressively more sexist and profane until she departs in disgust. Even he realizes it did not go well, though it is unclear if he thinks he was at fault.

This trend continues throughout the movie. However, instead of Ben cleaning up his act when they "try to make it work", Alison largely descends to his level. It is sad to see the once-clever dialogue of the film descend into a series of F-bombs and insults as she hangs out with him. But perhaps that is the point of the film.

Overall, despite the unlikable characters and heavy reliance on marijuana as a baseline for laughs it is an enjoyable comedy that has something to say about relationships, babies, friendships, and growing up.

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