What makes a good comedy movie? Is it Ben Stiller indulging his stuck in a crazy relationship shtick (Heartbreak Kid), Adam Sandler pretended to be gay (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry), or, perhaps, just an ark-load of zoo animals monkeying around on camera (Evan Almighty)?
Hard to say for sure, after all, comedy is as subjective as any other art form. Except for those movies that are so funny they transcend any individual subjectivity; movies that surpass the ridiculous and skate right into the sublime of an instant classic; movies like Knocked Up (R).
Written and directed by Judd Apatow, Knocked features televisions Katherine Heigl as the young Alison Scott. A talented producer at E! Television who, at the start of the film, gets unexpectedly promoted to on-camera personality.
bsolutely ecstatic, Katherine and her older sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) go out that night to celebrate at the favorite bar.
Once there, Alison meets Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), a scruffy but charming guy whose career consists of smoking marijuana while daydreaming with his friends about starting a web site. The two get off to a rocky start, but eventually hit it off after Debbies husband Pete (Paul Rudd) calls her home to help deal with their kids. One drink leads to another, and before long Alison and Ben are waking up the next morning only to discover that, outside of the night they just shared, they have absolutely nothing in common. That is, until several weeks later when Alison discovers that she is pregnant.
Wanting to do the responsible thing, Alison and Ben try and make a go of a relationship, but find themselves hampered not only by their different lifestyles, but also by the constant reminder through Debbie and Pete that marriage and family is a lot of hard work.
Granted, this sounds more like an After School Special than the funniest movie of the year, but all of this drama is precisely what makes the movie work so well. Drawing from the Shakespearean fine line between comedy and tragedy, Apatow brilliantly fleshes out each character, making each of their fears and emotions regarding relationships and parenthood ripe for his casts comedic taking. As the leads, Heigl and Rogen get much of the films spotlight, and deservedly so as both are welcome fresh talent for a summer awash in blockbuster stars. But Knockeds supporting cast deserves a lot of credit too for providing laugh after laugh around the films edges. Like a reunion from McKinley High, Apatow assembles here several talented, former Freaks and Geeks stars to stand beside Rogen: Jason Segel, Martin Starr and a perfect cameo from James Franco.
Rudd effortlessly spins into the mix with his acerbic, deadpan wit, which meshes beautifully onscreen wife, Mann. Even the films tertiary roles get filled out by some of the industrys better actors, such as Alan Tyduk, Kristen Wiig, Jay Baruchel and Jonah Hill, making every camera shot primed for humor.
Although the film runs a bit long, and is punctuated throughout by abrupt and clunky medium shots, which tend to singularly focus on one actor at a time, Knocked elicits laughs like no other film out there. Apatows penchant for teasing the humor out of otherwise awkward or difficult aspects of life makes the laughs all the heartier, and more meaningful since you actually find yourself identifying and caring about the characters and their situations. Apatow and his cadre of actors prove themselves to be a kind of pop culture national treasure, delivering with Knocked a standard by which all other comedies should follow.