(Clyde note: I originally wrote this review at the time of Knocked Up’s release. It has been slightly updated to exclude those references)
“You know how when you haven’t had sex in a while and you forget how good it is…..It’s like a beast, a beast that was asleep. Now the beast is wide awake and it wants to be fed and the food that Alex gave it was good food, George.”
Although Katherine Heigl spoke those words as Izzy Stevens on her Grey’s Anatomy gig, they could just as easily have been written for Alison Scott, the character Heigl plays in Knocked up. Allison is a career woman who works behind the camera for cable network E Entertainment. She has just been told that she is going to get a promotion, and will now work in front of the camera instead of behind it, although they do ask Alison to go home, weigh herself on a scale, write that down, subtract 20 from that number, and then weigh that because they aren’t really aloud to tell her to lose weight. But instead of planning her new diet regimen, Allison decides to go out with her sister to celebrate her promotion at a nightclub by downing a few beers.
Ben Stone and his roommates just happen to be occupying space in that very same nightclub on that very same night. And I do mean occupying space because to know Ben and his buddies is to know that their goal in life is just to occupy space. Ben and his friends are the kind of guys who have made slacking an art form.
They have only one goal in life that they aspire to acheive. They are planning an on line web site where anybody will be able to search any film to see if it has a nude scene and then find out exactly where in that film the nude scene is. In other words, they have to spend a lot of time watching movies with naked women in them. Nice work if you can get it, just don’t expect to get paid anytime soon for your efforts.
On the night in question, Ben wanders over to the bar to order a couple of beers, at the exact same moment as Alison, whom is attempting without much success to get the bartenders attention so that he’ll provide her with a couple of beers for herself and her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann. Ben reaches over the counter for his beers, and being the swell guy that he is ends up giving them to Allison. Later, Sister Debbie soon heads home to take care of her kiddies, leaving Ben and Debbie to get better acquainted. They also end up getting very intoxicated.
Now I don’t know if you have ever been out to a bar, had a few drinks, and then ended up with somebody you wouldn’t even give a passing glance too if you were cold stone sober, but I have, years ago. Make that many many years ago. You have a tendency to look at your companion through rose-colored glasses which is obviously how Allison sees Ben after she passes tipsy and heads into totally wasted territory. But when that beast Izzy Stephens was talking about needs to be fed, you really don’t nitpick a great deal, especially when you’ve eschewed the trappings of a decent personal life so that you can climb the career ladder. There just isn't time to get to know your partner in depth, up close and personal, or to find out if he watches the Cartoon Network or the Sundance Channel especially when you’re passing judgment through the haze of an alcoholic stupor.
In the process of feeding the beast, things can get a little hectic and while partner Ben is trying desperately to get the old condom to fit so his manhood will be snug as a bug in a rug, he misinterprets Allison’s pleas to hurry up and get on with it as a request to just forget about the protection and get down to the business at hand. Ben is more than happy to oblige of course, even though we know it all spells trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for Pregnant.
The next morning, sobriety and the glare of reality can be a rude awakening for anybody. Allison sees Ben the way he really is, and it is a one night stand she’d just as soon forget about, especially since her inner beast has been calmed, at least for the time being. But eight weeks later, Allison begins to think she might be just a little bit knocked up, especially when she goes on a hilarious vomiting rampage while interviewing James Franco. And just to be sure she stops and buys every home pregnancy test on the market on her way home. Afterwards, it is time to find Ben, and bless him with the good news as well.
One of the things I liked most about Knocked Up, is not only that the film is incredibly funny, but that writer/director Judd Apatow never sacrifices themes or characters for the sake of gross out comedy. We root for Allison and Ben because we like them so damn much. And just to be sure, Apatow makes the relationship between Allison’s sister Debbie and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd), an integral part of the film instead of just having them become comedic advice giving window dressing. So we root for them as well, but mostly we root for Pete who really puts up with a lot of shit. Debbie doesn’t understand why Pete doesn’t seem to want to be around her, and Pete doesn’t understand why Debbie even loves him so much. In essence, they give both Ben and Allison something to compare their own relationship to, although it might not be in their best interests to do so.
There are some really classic moments in this film ranging from a lesson in how to get pink eye, how to chew out a doorman, the aforementioned scene with James Franco, another one with Steve Carrell, an earthquake moment where you learn what to save and what not to save, and an absolutely fall down, roll in the aisle, hilarious trip to Las Vegas with Pete and Ben. And just to keep things going, the dialogue is sharp and witty throughout.
I really liked Knocked up. I loved the odd mix of crazy goofy humor mixed with touching tender moments. I liked the fact that the comedy is done in a way that it doesn’t detract from the film’s sincerity, and still manages to poke a little fun at everything from one night stands to an unexpected, unplanned, and probably unwanted first pregnancy.
It is unique in it’s own way because both Ben and Allison don’t just stop at trying to make the best of a bad situation, they join together and go above and beyond everybody’s expectations for them and to try making their relationship work, not for themselves but for the unborn child whose life will forever be their responsibility.
So while Superhero Movies may come and go, and although special effect extravaganzas may fill the local Cineplex, it’s nice when a film like Knocked Up can come along and be a success, because it has it’s heart in the right place. And when a film does that I have no choice but to give it my gread, which for Knocked Up is a very pregnant A.
The above video on the left is a mash up of scenes from the film I edited together. I originally did this instead of loading up the review with stills. Nobody is more surprised than me that it is still around, but you do have to watch a commercial now from which I make this much: $0. I also did it because I love the songs by Loudon Wainright that ran over the closing credits, one of which is this one, Grey in L.A. and is probably available from iTunes or other download services.