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Knocked Up

A movie directed by Judd Apatow

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Underneath every socially irresponsible prankster is a good father just waiting for his chance to emerge

  • Nov 20, 2007
Hollywood films have a peculiar relationship with the institution of marriage. On the one hand, it is depicted as lifeless and loveless, as without any inherent interest or dramatic tension. On the other hand, it is shown to be that towards which every self-absorbed or driven man and woman is ultimately destined, and as their only possible means of redemption from all of the stupid and insensitive things they do, and from the ambitions that lead only to loneliness and isolation. These days, Hollywood filmmakers don't usually go as far as ending in a church or to the ringing of wedding bells, but they clearly depict the idea that a woman is incomplete without her man (and vice-versa). Knocked up takes the formula -- of trashing marriage and family only to later reaffirm its legitimacy and importance -- to the extreme.

Ben is an extreme slacker (who has absolutely no internal censor telling him which thoughts to speak out loud and which to keep to himself), an illegal alien from Canada, who has no real job and spends his days goofing off with his buddies, smoking pot and creating a celebrity nudity website (an idea that, unfortunately for him, has already been taken). Alison is an up and coming assistant and soon-to-be reporter for E! Entertainment, who is living with her sister and brother-in-law. She goes out to celebrate her promotion, gets drunk and meets him, and nature takes its course. It takes about five minutes for her to decide to keep the baby and for him to decide he likes that idea -- and all of a sudden this totally mismatched pair is trying to make a relationship work for the sake of the baby. The filmmakers try to make plausible this match between a go-getter highly driven reporter and this lovable loser by establishing a heavy handed comparison with Alison's brother-in-law. The only difference between the successful in-law and the pothead Ben, really, is that the in-law has a better job and a bit of money and a greater ability to keep his bad habits hidden from his wife. I guess what Ben has going for him is a complete and utter lack of shame (that passes for a kind of admirable and sweet honesty).

Needless to say, Ben will prove himself worthy of fatherhood -- by reading a few parenting books and inexplicably getting a nice job and an apartment and a nursery full of cool stuff purchased on credit (which is really strange since he's an illegal alien who hasn't had any prior credit and only just got a job). I don't think that gives the plot away because it was virtually guaranteed from the beginning. The message: underneath every socially irresponsible and foul-mouthed pothead prankster (with a heart of gold) is a good father just waiting to emerge -- that is, as long as he's white and middle-classed and able to get a great job and lots of credit without much trouble on his own part.

Is it funny? Yes, I guess, every once in a while -- but most of the humor is of the "I can't believe someone would actually say that" sort that elicits uncomfortable chuckles. The film would be considerably shortened if they just cut out the endless and repeated and usage without any real significance of a certain word that begins with the letter f. Actually the humor in many instances reminded me most of the style of humor you get in a John Waters film -- but there John Waters uses discomfort as a way to tease the audience about their commitment to conventions of sexuality and expectations of middle class marital bliss that he finds either boring or crass. Here, the discomfort ultimately finds its outlet and release in a reaffirmation of the institutions and conventions that the characters treat lightly in their words and actions.

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More Knocked Up reviews
review by . April 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
In the summer of 2007, Judd Apatow made a follow up to his 2005 hit, the 40-Year Old Virgin.  Virgin was a pretty good movie that was actually quite funny and somehow heartfelt.  But it also took what was actually a pretty ridiculous premise and ran with it.  It's comical and fun.  Knocked Up was what followed, and it was actually a pretty good movie.      Knocked Up focuses on two different people.  The first is Ben Stone (Seth Rogen... who has been …
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2010
This movie was funny from beggining to end. It shows alot about how life really is, you may not want it but somtimes it just comes as a suprise to you.
Quick Tip by . August 28, 2009
A modern day, heartwarming unconventional love story. Awwwwwwwwwwww :)
review by . December 06, 2007
When I found out that Seth Rogen ("Forty-Year-Old Virgin," "Freaks and Geeks") would be headlining a comedy with the gorgeous Katherine Heigl ("Grey's Anatomy," "Roswell," "Just Bring It"), I knew it would be comedic gold. Instead, "Knocked Up," directed by "Forty-Year-Old Virgin" navigator, Judd Apatow, is a dull comedy with only flashes of brilliance from Apatow and Rogan's previous outing. In "Knocked Up," Heigl plays Alison, an up-and-comer at E! Entertainment Television who goes out on the …
review by . October 26, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
After having this movie compared to the 40-year Old Virgin, I was expecting a lot more comedy out of this movie. It had very few laughs and the drama wasn't good enough to warrent more than three stars.    Some of the scenes were a little graphic when the baby was born. The father was a real loser and you wonder why the mother wants to give him a chance (he was living off an inheritance that had run out and had no ambition towards a job). Also, his friends were quite annoying.   & …
review by . September 27, 2007
Bringing out the ugly! What really makes this film great and uncomfortable and funny is how it lets us see ourselves. In only a few moments Ben Stone is transformed from sweetly funny stoner into a shouting, mean-spirited, insensitive child. Pete retreats selfishly from a wife, Debbie who suffocates him with insane, but strangely familiar, expectations. All the players at some point become irrational, and this is where Alison (Hiegl's character) escapes criticism. Because she is pregnant, any outburst, …
About the reviewer
Nathan Andersen ()
Ranked #69
I teach philosophy at Eckerd College, in Saint Petersburg, Florida.      I run an award-winning International Cinema series in Tampa Bay (www.eckerd.edu/ic), and am co-director of … more
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Unwanted pregnancy might sound like a risky subject for slapstick comedy, but Knocked Up is from writer-director Judd Apatow--so we are in the hands of a man who likes to push things. And like Apatow's predecessor, The 40-Year-Old VirginKnocked Up is a shaggy crowd-pleaser, a comedy strewn with vulgarity but with a sweet heart at its center. A one-night stand between the utterly mismatched Ben (Seth Rogen, his first starring role) and Alison (Katherine Heigl) results in said pregnancy, and the two people reunite for mutual support--even though they barely know each other. Ben's a slob who lives with four other guys, all of whom share the same stunted approach to maturity; Alison is a new on-air personality at the E! channel. That these two eventually develop a shared understanding and affection is perhaps the movie's biggest stretch (some of the male-humor jokes amongst the guys are idiotic enough to test anybody's hope of civilizing them).

Rogen and Heigl don't really jump off the screen, but, to be fair, the movie frequently needs them to play straight while the supporting cast cuts up. Virgin vets Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd are around to supply some humor, as Alison's sister and brother-in-law, and the four idiots who live with Ben (Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Siegel, and Martin Starr) are in their own zone of sophomoric bad taste. Still, by 40-Year-Old Virgin standards, this movie doesn't ...
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