Judge David Johnson was hoping the success of this film would propel Joanna Kerns back into the public consciousness, but, alas, some birthday wishes don't come true.
Man, this movie is ripe for a birth pun, but I've got nothing. Wait, does "ripe" count?
Judd Apatow has become the golden boy of comedy in Hollywood lately, and with good reason—his movies are @#$%*$%#$ hilarious. This one in particular.
Facts of the Case
Seth Rogen (40 Year-Old Virgin) is Ben Stone, a slacker in his mid-20s with little on his mind except pot, ping pong and hanging around his apartment with his idiotic friends. When a one-night stand with Alison (Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy), a beautiful E! reporter, turns into a surprise pregnancy, his underachieving life goes into a tailspin.
The two, mismatched as they are, decide to make a go of it, keep the baby and perhaps salvage a relationship. There is, of course, much turbulence from the get-go, as Ben is forced to grow up and Alison must fight through the confusion of the situation. Worse, her sister (Leslie Mann) and brother-in-law (Paul Rudd) aren't much help modeling a functional marriage.
Judd Apatow is on fire. Following up on the funny—though slightly overrated 40-Year Old Virgin—he delivers this modestly budgeted comedy starring relative unknowns, and wove box office gold for his effort.
The writing is funny, the acting is funny, plus there's real emotion at work here. Apatow has landed the elusive double-shot, nailing the comedy (seriously, this is the funniest comedy I've seen this year) and the melodrama, rendering a total package that will appeal to just about everyone except for children and people who have major aversions to the F-bomb and close-ups of an infant crowning.
Knocked Up is about growing up. Though Alison gets some good screen time and she copes with all the usual inconveniences of pregnancy, really this story is about Ben. He's an adolescent, still clinging to his responsibility-free life, looking forward to getting high and insulting his roommates. The pregnancy of course ejects him from this paradise, and Ben has to grow up, forcefully and painfully. Hey, look at that parallel between becoming an adult and giving birth! Ka-pow!
This arc is the most compelling and Seth Rogen does well with it. I've heard criticisms about his performance, that it didn't contain the dramatic depth required of the man-child's rise to adulthood, but I dug it. Rogen has the talent of emitting sweetness, even when his character is hugely screwing up. When the time comes that he eventually moves away from Never-Never Land, while sudden (um, how did he get a job if he was living here illegally?), it is emotionally effective. Maybe Apatow could have shifted some of the heavy-duty dramatic punch from the Leslie Mann/Paul Rudd toward Rogen's storyline, but I've got no complaints.
The film has heart and is genuinely touching, but what generated the bank for Universal was the hilarity. The jokes are fast and sharp, littered with pop culture references and a profound stream of profanity. The set-ups are funny, be it the revelation of where Paul Rudd's character spend his nights or the entire singles bar scene or the trip to Vegas ("Now that's how you get pink-eye!") or the secret to where babies come from or Ben playing fetch with the kids or anything that transpires in the guys' apartment; Apatow knows how to build on a scenario and squeeze the gut laughs out of it, and I was gut-laughing straight through this thing.
No doubt that Knocked Up is a signature Universal release for HD-DVD, but there was somewhat of a missed opportunity here and it's all about the video transfer. The 1.85:1 widescreen (1080p, VC-1 encoded) visual treatment looks okay, but "okay" doesn't quite cut it in the high-stakes world of high-def optical formats. The picture quality overall looks soft and not as sharp as some of the better releases on the format. Some details still jump out, but color levels are more muted than they should be. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack is nice, but lossless True HD is fast becoming the norm, and would have been nicer.
For extras, the U-Control in-movie-experience returns, and it's a nice addition as always. As the film runs, the picture-in-picture becomes available, featuring on-set footage and interviews with the cast and crew. After that, you'll get a rowdy commentary track with Rogen, Apatow and Bill Hader, deleted scenes that are actually funny, a documentary about one cast member's anxiety attack on a roller coaster, bloopers, a live music performance and a goofy segment with Capote director Bennett Miller hounding Apatow on set. It's a fine dose of supplementals, highlighted by the U-Control feature.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The ballyhooed "unrated, extended cut" is a whopping four minutes longer than the theatrical cut.
Hilarious and heartfelt, Knocked Up works from all angles. And it appears that Seth Rogen is now a bona fide star.
A pink line! (Not guilty.)
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