$2.50 Reviews: Knocked Up (2007)

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Knocked Up

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Knocked Up is a romantic comedy following the aftermath of a one-night stand between a stoner without a real job and a media personality whose job partially depends on looks. The only way to make this interesting would be to reverse the gender of these characters, but perhaps that's too daring. The stoner is a male named Ben played by Seth Rogen, while the TV-person is Alison, played by Katherine Heigl. Could you imagine, though, if their roles were reversed? Now that's what I call comedy.

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Okay, so, the basic idea of the plot has already been covered. The decision is made to keep the baby, presumably because an abortion would end the movie way too soon. Ben and Alison try to get along, "for the sake of the baby," and funny things happen along the way. Or, they're supposed to happen. I might have laughed 5 times in this 129-minute movie. But, the comedy just didn't appeal to me, so that's fine. I accept that, and I know that, to some people, this will be the funniest movie ever. This is why reviewing comedies like this is almost pointless.

Essentially, I could spend this whole review telling you why I didn't find it funny, or why it offended me -- which it didn't, by the way -- or how writer-director Judd Apatow is sweet even though his dialogue is profane, or anything like that. I don't know, exactly, what the point of it would be, but I could do it. Or, you could just watch a couple of clips online and if they make you laugh, you'll probably find the whole movie enjoyable and should just go see it.

I can at least appreciate the attempt at humor. There are lazy comedies, which have few ideas and even fewer jokes, that just feel like they drag on and on until you finally bite the bullet. This one, at least there was a consistency to the whole production. You can see where the attempts at humor were, even if you personally don't find them funny. I can appreciate that. And, yes, there is sort of a sweetness to it. Rom-coms kind of have to be sweet, don't they? If they're not, the people seeing it won't be happy afterward. And that just won't do for this genre.

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The problem I have with it is that all of the conflict seems so forced and illogical. A man goes to hang out with some friends for a fantasy baseball draft, which is taken by his wife as "never wanting to spend time with his family; friends are more important." She then tells him she doesn't want him in the house anymore. Or how a man is thrown out of a car on the ride to the gynecologist's just for saying that he can understand another person's situation.

It's drama for the sake of drama, because there has to be some sort of conflict that can be overcome at the end. If there isn't, it's just an incredibly dull drama about two people figuring out how to raise a baby in 9 months' time. But, I have to wonder why the conflict always seems so forced? Is good script writing -- most of which is, I presume, saved for the dramas -- really that hard to come by? Most of the film seems mostly natural, so why does the conflict have to stick out like hockey player on a tennis court?

You have to hand it to Apatow, though, as he manages to get quite the cast together for the film. Many roles are one to two scene parts, but they feature some pretty well-known names. At the top of the supporting cast, we have Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, playing a married couple that Alison is staying with. Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and Martin Starr play Ben's roommates. Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong and Adam Scott all have bit parts, too. And there are also a handful of uncredited celebrity cameos scattered throughout.

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All of the actors are fine, I suppose. Some of them appear to be playing themselves, like all of Ben's roommates. They even play "characters" whose names are identical to those of their actors. Seth Rogen plays his typical stoner character, Katherine Heigl is sweet and likable, Leslie Mann gets to whine about a lot of people, and Paul Rudd is the charismatic and charming one. None of this should come as a shock, which further makes me think it would have been a whole lot funnier if the actors switched roles and played against type.

The funniest parts of Knocked Up, for me, were the bit parts played by funnier people. Jeong plays the doctor who ends up delivering the baby. Wiig and Tudyk play Alison's bosses, and made me laugh more in their two scenes than most everyone else did for the rest of the film. I would have preferred the film spend more time with these characters and not the Alison/Ben team; everyone else was more interesting to be around.

I didn't laugh at Knocked Up, but I can appreciate the attempts and I know there are lots of people who find it funny, so if you are on the fence about this one, look online for some clips and make up your mind for yourself. There is nothing harder to review than a comedy with such a basic concept. I did enjoy the supporting cast more than the primary one, and they actually got some laughs out of me. I maintain that seeing Heigl as the stoner and Rogen as the TV personality would have been much funnier, but, then, I don't work in Hollywood.

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Marter:

$2.50 Reviews: Knocked Up (2007)

Marter posted on 24 Sep 2013 7:31 am

Knocked Up

Today, Marter gets just a little knocked up.

Read Review

.... Dude. ..What? Bu-but... you're a, guy.... I-

I kid, I kid XD am so sorry but couldn't resist.

OT: Seth Rogen is the type of actor that's talented but only if given the right parts in a movie. Some movies he did very well in that I admired his character, while in movies like The Green Hornet I didn't really much like him at all. The way you wrote this review made me appreciate his attempts in this even if it wasn't as funny as one would hope.

Also yeah the drama does sound forced. In most cases, dramas like that wouldn't happen... but this is a movie. Anything goes really.
Thanks for the review Marter. At least there's happy moments cause it's two people supporting a baby despite it was accidental.

The thing that must be taken into account with the whole "forced Drama" thing (and I cannot speak from experience, this is just a shot in the dark) is that one half of the main characters is Pregnant, where, as I understand it, the balance of the hormones sort of take over and someone who can be typically rational can become irrational very easily.

I say this only with a very misogynistic view and no real claim to it, but I come by it honestly and should I meet a woman that lends this assumption credence or not, I'll find out in my own time, but it is a theory.

The other is Judd Apatow had to invent a reason for the movie to continue as it does.

I saw this when I was 18 and I also didn't enjoy it as much, but upon repeat viewings (not too many, it's only okay by my standards), I found the movie to be funny in a lot of places.

Unlike say, The 40 Year Old Virgin which was more a sitcom than this (personally), this attempts to paint characters, not archetypes. I didn't say it did it well, but it tried to have real conflicts that some people might make big deals out of, Like Paul Rudd's wife making a big deal out of Fantasy Football and seeing Spiderman 3 by himself. My girlfriend of the time acted quite a bit like that in most cases, so I understood it in some spots.

Not a great movie, but it is funny at times, and I can't fault it for that at all.

Great Review, Marter.

The most damning thing this movie pulls is Seth and Kathrine starting a romantic relationship just because she is pregnant. I mean, what is this... the 1950's?

And the fact that these two actors clearly despise eachother is another strike against it. Their onscreen animosity can be cut with a knife.

I really like The 40-year Old Virgin, but it was the birth of the lazy improv comedy.

shogunblade:
it tried to have real conflicts that some people might make big deals out of, Like Paul Rudd's wife making a big deal out of Fantasy Football and seeing Spiderman 3 by himself.

I feel they left a lot of honesty out of that stuff and that's too bad. In real life relationships (my own marital one) guys need their space. Women (at least my wife) despise that. To paraphrase Ghallager the maddest, "what good is being queen of your castle if your staff isn't around?" But my wife accepts I need my space as long as I'm honest about it and fit it into my other responsibilities. Rudd in this movie does not. He lies and he sneaks and that isn't fair. The movie seems to think he needs to give up his space to fix his relationship. I thinks not. He just needs to be honest.

Casual Shinji:
The most damning thing this movie pulls is Seth and Kathrine starting a romantic relationship just because she is pregnant. I mean, what is this... the 1950's?

The worst aspect of the movie for me. There is no reason for KH to continue to "boink" this guy. They needed to have us believe they really do like each other but need to move into something more. Even so, Appatow is an odd commodity. 40 year old virgin is his best. This his 2nd best and awesome. It feels like he keeps going downhill which is sad. He's getting too serious for his own good.

For instance, "This is 40" was very funny for the 1st half, then got super serious and sucked.

It's OK to have a point outside the laughter. But he needs to remember, we see his stuff to laugh. Drama, "dying" is easy. Comedy is hard.

Gorfias:
The worst aspect of the movie for me. There is no reason for KH to continue to "boink" this guy. They needed to have us believe they really do like each other but need to move into something more. Even so, Appatow is an odd commodity. 40 year old virgin is his best. This his 2nd best and awesome. It feels like he keeps going downhill which is sad. He's getting too serious for his own good.

Nah man, Freaks and Geeks was his best. He wasn't the sole creater of that, but he was executive producer, and wrote and directed a number of episodes. And he showed a greater balance between comedy and drama. Most of the Appatow entourage started there.

This is kind of a problem with "romantic comedies" as a whole, "Knocked Up" very much included. 99% of the time, the third act must read as: there's a conflict that brings strife to the relationship (either real or a misunderstanding); the male lead makes necessary changes, fights for the relationship, humiliates himself, and/or runs after the female lead (often apologizing profusely) to convince her of his dedication; they make up and progress to an implied happily-ever-after.

I suspect there's a professor at UCLA or somewhere similar who teaches this structure in a class to prospective film students, and the sooner that professor has a tragic accident involving a tenth story window and a piano, the happier a lot of moviegoers will be. It's lazy, it's utterly predictable, and worst of all, it can undermine any goodwill the characters might have earned in the scenes leading to the inevitable (and frequently far-fetched) crisis.

(Spoilers for movies which are eight years old or older follow; you've been warned.)

How to Lose a Guy In Ten Days would like us to credit the idea that a man trying to win a woman over because of a bet and a woman treating same man in the most agonizingly terrible ways she can think of in the context of a relationship over a similar bet are equal causes for indignation. By the end of Hitch, I was restraining myself from urging the on-screen hero out loud not to go after that awful woman, let alone apologize to her.

There have been a couple of exceptions of note: in The Truth About Cats and Dogs, it's the heroine who has to go after the hero, rather than vice-versa. In My Best Friend's Wedding, the heroine chases after the hero... and in a rather unprecedented show of movie-world sensibility, given the situation, fails to win him.

Given the apparent conquest of the genre by this particular formula, it seems the most one can hope for from a typical rom-com is some clever writing, actors who make their characters appealing, and enough momentum to get the audience over that inevitable third-act "hump" still wanting the characters to actually get and stay together.

Casual Shinji:

Gorfias:
T Appatow is an odd commodity. 40 year old virgin is his best. This his 2nd best and awesome. It feels like he keeps going downhill which is sad. He's getting too serious for his own good.

Nah man, Freaks and Geeks was his best. He wasn't the sole creater of that, but he was executive producer, and wrote and directed a number of episodes. And he showed a greater balance between comedy and drama. Most of the Appatow entourage started there.

LOL, OK. Freaks was before 40 year old virgin, so he really keeps going down hill! That is a fantastic show. I do recall only 1 bad episode in its run. The episode where the guy that imitates Kirk is looking for his father was amazing, if not particularly funny.

Callate:
This is kind of a problem with "romantic comedies" as a whole, "Knocked Up" very much included. 99% of the time, the third act must read as: there's a conflict that brings strife to the relationship (either real or a misunderstanding)

Too true, and I've asked before in these forums why that is happening. Does anyone like it when they do this? And it isn't just Romantic Comedies. I don't know what "Bridesmaids" would fall into, but it was on a major, major downer for just about an ENTIRE act! From being funny and great to making you want to walk out. "This is 40" is even worse, without being as funny as Bridesmaids in the first 2/3rds to put it in the same league.

 

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