Seth Rogen, an unlikely romantic leading man, is perfectly cast as slacker Ben Stone. Ben lives in a frat house-type abode with his buddies (off-screen friends Martin Starr, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, and Jonah Hill) and spends his time sort of working on creating a website about naked celebrities. Work isn't a high priority for Ben. Mostly, he’s a loveable oaf who just hangs out with his goofy friends, getting drunk, talking about sex as well as other assorted topics guys in their 20s typically discuss at great length.
How Ben and Allison handle the news of an unplanned pregnancy is rich fodder for comedy, as Ben’s sophomoric buddies come up with various ideas on how to deal with his impending fatherhood. But what really makes Knocked Up work is the unlikely relationship that grows between the two soon-to-be parents. It’s sweet without being saccharine and funny without being ridiculous or over-the-top.
The Bottom Line
Apatow has a knack for making even the goofiest character into much more than a one-dimensional mock-up, and though the Knocked Up ensemble is rather large, each member has a distinct personality. Apatow brought in actors he’d worked with before in TV projects and other feature films to fill the supporting roles. Their friendship and familiarity with each other’s styles lend an extra layer of authenticity to their characters. You can’t fake the friendship vibe between Jay Baruchel, Martin Starr, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, and Rogen, all of whom deliver terrific performances.
Knocked Up provides a surprisingly insightful look at relationships while never forgetting it’s first and foremost a comedy movie set to entertain and not educate. In other words, it never gets preachy or plays out like a relationship instruction manual yet it takes a real honest approach to the subject matter and has a real heart to it. But I’m making Knocked Up sound as though it’s a cutesy pregnancy film and it’s definitely not. Apatow’s 40 Year Old Virgin is a G-rated family film compared to how lewd and crude the guys of Knocked Up get. No subject is off-limits and when you expect a joke to back away from the punch line, it doesn’t. Apatow goes for it and the result is absolutely hilarious.
Knocked Up was directed by Judd Apatow and is rated R for sexual content, drug use and language.