Saturday, September 29, 2007

Knocked Up, directed by Judd Apatow [3]

***/***** (3/5)

It's sad when I start contrasting and comparing movies with chick-lit. KNOCKED UP's hero Ben Stone (played by Seth Rogen) is a romance heroine's worst nightmare: chubby, medium height, slight scruffy beard, unemployed and a chronic druggie/partier. He says and does some of the most boorishly unromantic things. Ben Stone spends time getting high with his goofy male friends, endeavors to launch a potentially lucrative website which maps out (in minutes/seconds) the nude scenes from every possible movie and for every possible actress. Later, Ben and his dorky buddies discover there's already a website that does what they intended. Ben Stone lives off a minor settlement from the Canadian government which approaches its last hundred dollars, and has no other prospects.

Meanwhile, Alison Scott played by Katherine Heigl has everything going for her: she works for E! Entertainment and she was recently promoted, she's young, relatively tall, beautiful and is on the way up. Alison and her older, married sister Debbie go out to celebrate her promotion on a night in town. Though Alison doesn't often party, her recent success prompts a night of drunken stupor where she meets an opportunistic Ben Stone. Ben isn't a ladies man by any stretch of the imagination, but an inebriated Alison knows no better and proceeds to have unprotected sex with Ben. When Ben is in the middle of putting on a condom, Alison yells, "Just do it!" and Ben believes she may have some other form of protection, ditching the condom.

A repulsed Alison wakes to find a scruffy, chubby, hairy Ben in her bed. After they talk over breakfast, it's clear to Alison that she made the biggest mistake in her life. Not only do they have nothing in common, Ben is as gauche as they come often speaking his mind about topics which horrify Alison.

Six weeks later, Alison discovers she's pregnant and the only guy she's been with recently was Ben. Alison calls Ben to notify him, and the "fun" begins from there. Although Ben reacts very unfavorably at first (to say the least), he's a generally good guy and tries to support Alison with trips to the gynecologist and baby shopping. The strident interaction between the two exacerbates with Alison's hormones and Ben's impolitic, adolescent behavior. Eventually, Alison and the baby inspire Ben to clean up his life while Ben's offensively, oafish jokes and manner finally make Alison smile. She starts to have a bit of fun.

Paul Rudd plays Alison's brother-in-law and though I thought he was good, his camaraderie with Ben was a bit weird. I mean you have father of two daughters heading to Las Vegas with Ben and getting high. I suppose Rudd's character needed an outlet for release too.

The movie isn't as laugh-out-loud funny as Apatow's previous movie THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN or the other big comedy hit from two years ago, THE WEDDING CRASHERS. In the end, however, this one is very endearing. I have to commend Katherine Heigl's character Alison for staying with Ben as long as she did given Ben's crass behavior. I would have cut Ben off as a hopeless cause and raised the baby by myself much earlier were I in her place. She definitely has the means to raise the baby by herself. Then again, it's written, produced and directed by a guy, and we wouldn't see Ben try to redeem himself if she were to cut him off so early.

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