×

Knocked Up

"Knocked Up" is uproarious. Line for line, minute to minute, writer-director Judd Apatow's latest effort is more explosively funny, more frequently, than nearly any other major studio release in recent memory.

With:
Seth Rogan - Ben Stone Katherine Heigl - Alison Scott Paul Rudd - Pete Leslie Mann - Debbie Jason Segel - Jason Harold Ramis - Ben's Dad Jay Baruchel - Jay Jonah Hill - Jonah

Knocked Up” is uproarious. Line for line, minute to minute, writer-director Judd Apatow’s latest effort is more explosively funny, more frequently, than nearly any other major studio release in recent memory. Indeed, even more than the filmmaker’s smash-hit sleeper “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” his new pic is bound to generate repeat business among ticketbuyers who’ll want to savor certain scenes and situations again and again, if only to memorize punchlines worth sharing with buddies. Currently set for a June 1 release, this hugely commercial comedy likely will remain in megaplexes throughout the summer and, possibly, into the fall.

The basic setup — pregnant with comic potential, naturally — is simplicity itself: Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), a contentedly underemployed slacker, meets ambitious Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) at a trendy Los Angeles nitery. She’s feeling celebratory because of her promotion to on-camera correspondent for E! Entertainment Television; he’s ready to party hearty because, well, that’s his natural state of being. One thing leads to another, propelled by ample amounts of alcohol, and the mismatched strangers wind up connecting for what they assume will be a one-night stand.

A few weeks later, however, Alison discovers she is pregnant.

For Ben, a scruffy layabout who shares a disheveled home with four similarly slackerish stoners, news of his impending fatherhood comes as a rude awakening. (Until now, his primary goal has been designing a Web site listing when and where actresses appear nude in homevid movies.)

For Alison, pregnancy initially seems like a career impediment — it’s hard to do red-carpet reports during one’s third trimester — but she’s ready to accept motherhood with a little help, if not a permanent commitment, from the baby’s father.

After a surprisingly smooth start, however, this unlikely bonding (which quickly evolves into a friendship with benefits) turns rocky. Alison has certain expectations — for one thing, she’d like Ben not to get stoned quite so often — and Ben has a few hang-ups. (During what is, hands down, the funniest sequence in an extremely funny movie, he turns squeamish while attempting sexual congress with his extremely pregnant partner.)

It doesn’t help that their less-than-encouraging role models are Alison’s control-freakish sister Debbie and her discontented husband Pete (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, who, along with Rogen, also appeared in “Virgin”).

Much of what happens next can be predicted by anyone who’s seen a movie in which a feckless ne’er-do-well reluctantly comes of age when adult responsibility is thrust upon him (or her). What sets “Knocked Up” apart is Apatow’s gift for balancing the madcap swagger and uninhibited bawdiness of a high-testosterone farce with the unabashed sweetness and romantic yearning of a chick flick. That formula, so effective in “Virgin,” proves even more potent here. So much so that Apatow is able to sustain the pic for 132 minutes — unusually long for a comedy — with no visible strain and precious little filler.

Apatow has a perfect-pitch ear for dialogue that is at once profanely funny, persuasively colloquial and pop-culture-aware: The characters repeatedly reference “Spider-Man 3” — which, come summer, will be playing next door in the megaplex — in precisely the ways one would expect them to reference it.

Apatow relies relatively little on sight gags or physical slapstick, preferring to earn his guffaws from characters revealing themselves in conversations and quarrels, bull sessions and soul-bearings. The insult-heavy interplay among Ben and his roomies (well-cast Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Martin Starr) recalls the hectoring give-and-take among the title character’s co-workers in “Virgin.” But there is much to amuse during the quieter moments as well. When Ben gets his first glimpse at Alison without her clothes, he exclaims, with equal measures of disbelief and gratitude: “You’re prettier than I am.”

That line — which likely will cause a shock of recognition among many male ticketbuyers, though few would ever admit it — is one of many Rogen adroitly employs to construct a performance that winningly underscores Ben’s blunt-spoken crudity and puppy-dog sweetness.

In his first starring role, thesp vividly conveys both the appeal and the emptiness of eternal adolescence without ever turning too grown-up to tax believability or disappoint auds. He’s also a terrifically effective foil for Heigl, who brings a compelling edge to Alison’s fear and befuddlement and a ferociously funny frenzy to the character’s pregnancy-fueled mood swings.

Casting is spot-on from the good-sport celebs who cameo as themselves (Ryan Seacrest is fearlessly self-satirical) to fleeting bit players. Rudd makes not-so-quiet desperation even more affecting here than he did in “The Oh in Ohio,” while Mann subtly reveals the aching dissatisfaction beneath Debbie’s toxic snippiness.

Slick production package enhances pic’s overall entertainment value.

Popular on Variety

Knocked Up

Production: A Universal release and presentation of an Apatow production. Produced by Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson, Clayton Townsend. Executive producers, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg. Directed, written by Judd Apatow.

Crew: Camera (Technicolor), Eric Edwards; editors, Brent White, Craig Alpert; music, Loudon Wainwright, Joe Henry; music supervisor, Jonathan Karp; production designer, Jefferson Sage; set decorator, Chris L. Spellman; costume designer, Debra McGuire; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS/SDDS), David MacMillan; assistant director, Matt Rebenkoff; casting, Latrell Manuel. Reviewed at South by Southwest Film Festival (Special Screenings), March 12, 2007. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 132 MIN.

With: Seth Rogan - Ben Stone Katherine Heigl - Alison Scott Paul Rudd - Pete Leslie Mann - Debbie Jason Segel - Jason Harold Ramis - Ben's Dad Jay Baruchel - Jay Jonah Hill - Jonah

More Film

  • Paul Downs Colaizzo

    'Perfect Nanny' Movie Adaptation Taps 'Brittany Runs a Marathon' Director (EXCLUSIVE)

    Leila Slimani’s critically acclaimed, international bestseller “The Perfect Nanny” — aka “Chanson Douce” — is coming to the big screen. Legendary has closed a deal for Paul Downs Colaizzo to adapt and direct the English-language adaptation. Legendary will produce the pic alongside Pascal Caucheteux of Why Not Productions and Philippe Godeau of Pan-Européenne. The story [...]

  • Sterling K. BrownVariety and Women in

    Sterling K. Brown to Narrate Disney Plus Documentary 'One Day at Disney' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sterling K. Brown is set to lend his voice to the upcoming Disney Plus feature documentary “One Day at Disney,” Variety has learned exclusively. “One Day at Disney” will highlight the people who work on some of Disney’s most beloved stories. The film will highlight 10 specific people and their role at Disney through the lens [...]

  • Mehrdad Oskouei on IDFA Opener ‘Sunless

    Mehrdad Oskouei on IDFA Opener ‘Sunless Shadows’: 'Giving a Voice to Voiceless People'

    Documentary film festival IDFA opened Wednesday with Iranian director Mehrdad Oskouei’s “Sunless Shadows,” the latest in a series of films about incarcerated teens in his homeland. Developed with help from the IDFA Bertha Fund, the film takes viewers inside an Iranian juvenile detention center, where a group of underage girls are serving time for very [...]

  • Stephen Curry John Legend

    Stephen Curry, John Legend Team on Sports Drama 'Signing Day' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Stephen Curry’s Unanimous Media production banner, John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. and Sony Pictures are teaming up for the sports drama “Signing Day.” The project, which has tapped screenwriter Adam Hoff, marks one of the first films to be put into development under the NBA superstar’s first-look deal with the studio, which he signed [...]

  • The Banker

    Apple Pulls 'The Banker' as AFI Fest Closing Night Film

    In a last-minute decision, Apple has canceled a planned gala screening of “The Banker,” one of the tech company’s flagship original films that was meant to close AFI Fest on Thursday in Hollywood. Netflix has stepped in and will screen Noah Baumbach’s acclaimed “Marriage Story” in its place. “We purchased ‘The Banker’ earlier this year [...]

  • 'Cats' Will Be Done in Time

    'Cats' Will Compete for Golden Globes After All (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Cats,” one of the most puzzling offerings of this holiday movie season, will likely be competing for the Golden Globes after all. Earlier reports had suggested that the film based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1981 musical about Jellicle cats would not be vying for end-of-year awards because it isn’t done yet. But sources tell Variety [...]

  • Nederland, Amsterdam, 20-11-2019-Opening Night in CarrÈ

    Gender Parity, Inclusion and Young Talent Take Center Stage at IDFA Opening

    The 32nd International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) opened Wednesday with gender parity, inclusion, and young talent front and center. Twenty-one year-old Canadian-Vietnamese director Carol Nguyen — whose short “No Crying at the Dinner Table” screens at the festival — kicked off the evening, reflecting IDFA’s commitment to young talent and women filmmakers. Nguyen said [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content