Knocked Up, the latest comedy from writer/director Judd Apatow is hilarious. The team that brought you 2005's funniest film, The 40-year-old Virgin have probably repeated that feat.
Seth Rogen - the fat hairy guy who would never be mistaken for a leading man - plays Ben Stone, the leading man in this picture. Rogen is perhaps the most likable loser to ever grace the screen, and the way he plays Stone feels so natural, you're left wondering if there's a distinction between the two. Katherine Heigl plays Allison Scott, an up-and-coming reporter for the E! network, the type who you'd expect to share the shallow, fickle nature of the Hollywood crowd. Wonderfully, she doesn't. Despite her aspirations to move up the show-biz ladder, Scott is a down-to-earth type, and equally as lovable as Stone. Helping accomplish this feat are cameos from a number of celebs willing to poke fun at themselves, and Kirstin Wiig playing (to hilarious perfection) the counterpoint Hollywood executive that you pray Scott never becomes.
Throughout the film you want so much for Stone and Scott to work out as a couple; she's exactly the kind of girl a guy like him could never get, but she seems like exactly the kind of girl who can see past that fact.
The premise of the film is rather simple, and, as with Virgin you can probably figure it out from the title: Stone and Scott hook up, she ends up pregnant, they're having a baby. Neither of them is prepared for parenthood, and the examples they have in their life are far from ideal. Scott lives with her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and brother-in-law Pete (the perfect regular guy Paul Rudd) and their two daughters. Debbie and Pete are struggling with their marriage, their children the only thing they seem to have in common. Stone is surrounded by friends who smoke pot and catalogue porn for an internet site. Harold Ramis plays his father, a grown-up version of Stone, who, it is apparent, never really grew up.
It's up to the two of them to figure out how to become parents, and, if they can muster it, work out some sort of relationship, despite their drastically different worlds.
The comedy is impeccable, with laugh after laugh. This movie was possibly even funnier than Virgin. And, also like Virgin, it had a deep heart, juxtopositioning the sometimes-crass humor with a depth of emotion rarely found in any movie, much less comedy. Apatow writes such realistic characters that you honestly care about them. There's a moral depth to his writing that escapes most of Hollywood. This movie might have even more of that than did it's 2005 counterpart.
Yes, that's right, I've just said that this movie might be more funny, and have more heart, than The 40-year-old Virgin. And yet, this movie wasn't an overall better film. I'm exactly 0% Hollywood insider, but here's how it seemed to me:
The movie needed another rewrite. Virgin was tight and crisp, with every piece and scene falling exactly into place, even though it kept is loose, improv style. Knocked Up instead felt at times more in need of some tailoring. Not much mind you, but it felt like it could be, oh, I don't know, "tightened up" (hat tip, Allen Tudyk). Just a little fine-tuning, and it would have surpassed its predecessor. But who knows, maybe I'll feel differently when I have children of my own. I'd be willing to bet that this is a movie that would speak more deeply to those who have had children.
Either way, I'm hoping for more from this crowd. They're funny, funny, people, with a whole lotta heart.
I give it an A-.
What have I done?
What have I done?