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Knocked Up: Judd Apatow Is Kind of a Genius

I suppose it's appropriate that the movie that makes me want to have Judd Apatow's babies is called Knocked Up. What's funnier is some of the best moments come from the two little girls in the movie, who are Apatow's real daughters. The girls were apparently filmed just goofing around and their improvisational stylings actually made it into the movie. It's this true-to-life feeling of discovery permeating the whole film that is perhaps the secret ingredient making Apatow's movies — and Knocked Up in particular — palatable to a wide audience.

You probably know the story by now: Allison (Katherine Heigl, who is No. 1 on my Top Ten Ladies of Summer list, btw) and Ben (Seth Rogen), two highly unlikely lovers, have drunken sex and end up pregnant. Ben's life consists of watching movies to find out the precise minute when women get naked, while Allison's career as the host of an E! celebrity show is just taking off. The two decide to keep the baby and proceed to stumble through the motions of preparing for the baby's arrival. Meanwhile, Allison's sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and brother-in-law Pete (Paul Rudd) struggle to make their marriage work while their two little daughters (Judd Apatow's real children) act adorably throughout the whole thing. That's just the synopsis, though, so to see my take on the movie,

Katherine Heigl plays Allison as a surprisingly 3-dimensional character: career-driven, emotional, and sometimes insecure. She's not just a caricature of "woman" so often portrayed in a lot of dude movies. Leslie Mann, who plays Allison's sister (and wife to Paul Rudd's character) is perhaps my favorite person to watch, her sweet voice and innocent looks contrasting hilariously with her crude language and outrageous comments. Curiously, the male characters — while funny — are more flat overall, with the exception of Paul Rudd who employs his usual dry humor, sometimes seeming hateful of his life but always coming from a base of love to the point where you just want to eat him up. With a spoon.

While I have negative things to say about the movie they are few and virtually inconsequential. It felt longer than it is, and some of the scenes dragged, which I found surprising for such an otherwise entertaining movie. Also, as is the common affliction of romantic comedies, the lead characters don't appear to have any real chemistry at all. I didn't buy for a second that Allison and Ben were truly in love. At first it's funny because they're flirting and drunk and she's beautiful and he's goofy, but later they try for genuine feeling between the two and there's nothing there. These things are so small, though, and in general this is the most successful romantic comedy I've seen maybe ever.

Men will probably love Knocked Up for a variety of reasons, among them being the endless barrage of F-bombs dropped everywhere, the gross-out humor (one joke about pink eye actually activated my gag reflex), and the scenes of male bonding that make you feel like you're observing dudes in their natural habitat. Ladies (like me) will most likely enjoy it because it's funny and honest, and there are tender moments having to do with motherhood, dating and female bonding — all without painting women as idiots or totally insane. It's truly a win-win situation if I ever saw one.


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