“He’s playing fetch with my kids.”
You may recall that my analysis of Transformers involved me denouncing it as one of the most “heterosexual” movies that I have ever borne witness to. That was a movie about giant robot/vehicle hybrids. Knocked Up is a film about a one night stand that results in pregnancy, yet I failed to have any of the issues that I did with Transformers. I think that the level of cynicism and obnoxiousness present in a Michael Bay film, and films of his ilk – me being a fellow who cannot watch a film for eye candy (and seriously, who thinks that Shia LeBeouf is attractive?) – is the issue, because clearly I make no objection to heterosexuality in cinema, elseways I’d be screwed.
Fortunately, Knocked Up is brilliant. In the Apatow tradition of The 40 Year Old Virgin, we have been presented with that rarest of Hollywood beasts: a comedy that is funny. To add to that glee, it harkens back to the grand old days when being funny still left you open to emotions. What happened to the days of ciphers who got laughs solely through meanness and venom, with the occasional half-hearted tug at your heartstrings? Why is it that the less money you spend on a movie, the less artificial it seems? Most importantly, how can anyone explain or reconcile Paul Rudd’s obvious love of Everybody Loves Raymond?
Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is an illegal immigrant from Canada, with plans to last another wo years on his last nine hundred dollars. Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl, proving that she is wasted on Grey’s Anatomy) is a production assistant on E!. She celebrates her promotion to an on-air position by going to a club. There the two of them meet, get drunk, and proceed to have miscommunicated, unprotected sex.
Eight weeks later …
Unlike The 40 Year Old Virgin, a creation of Steve Carell, I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to suggest that Knocked Up is Judd Apatow’s paean to fatherhood. He goes so far as to cast his wife, Leslie Mann, as Allison’s sister and his own children play Allison’s nieces. The first time I saw this movie, I was tempted to say that it is not as funny as Virgin. If you’ve seen the extended cut of Virgin, you’ll realise that it’s very, very funny, but the story drowns among the improv.
You can tell from the movie that we ended up with that a lot has been cut out. I can imagine that the DVD will feature an epic amount of roommate material. There is significantly more story here, while there was never that much in Virgin – so I welcome this extended cut with open arms, because really, Knocked Up is about love and friendship.
I read a column in the Sydney Morning Herald that suggested that this is a “pro-life” movie, and that abortion is never an option or even mentioned. How anyone could miss the “shmeshmortion” roundtable discussion is beyond me. I don’t want to go into anything even approaching an abortion debate, but I must make this clear: “pro-choice” means that a woman has a right to choose; it does not mean “instant abortion” – and you get the impression, watching this movie, that Ben and Allison have both thought it through.
Certainly in the context of Knocked Up, this unexpected pregnancy is a wonderful thing. It brings two disparate people close together, and creates a love that otherwise would never have existed. I don’t think that anyone wants to see a comedy where a man unwittingly impregnates a woman and they just hate each other forever; this is a movie that takes full advantage of both words in the genre “romatic comedy”. It’s not quite “When Harry Met Sally gets pink eye”, but what is? It’s proof that you can make an incredibly vulgar movie, replete with nudity and swearing, and not lose heart.
In fact, Knocked Up is of such a quality that the stoner jokes, an aspect of … youth culture? … that I find abhorrent, is rendered hilarious. There’s even an “I’m just really high” joke that is funny. Take heed, Jack Black! Your movie need not have sucked – it could have been gold!
So, Knocked Up is a movie about straight things, but … it’s pretty gay. It’s the top secret of heterosexual men: they’re ridiculously homoerotic (it’s how homophobia gets around, as a smokescreen). Pretending that one of your number is a woman, then proceeding to mime sex with him? That’s pretty gay. The roommates are exactly like that. There was, ironically in hindsight, a worry that the movie uses the word “fag”, but I think that context is mightily important to that sort of scene. Not only is Debbie shut down after using it, but she is shut down in the funniest way possible. Mike White went so far as to complain that Apatow was something of a bully, and many people took exception to Virgin‘s now legendary “You know how I know you’re gay?” sequence. Yeah, well, maybe I’m an apologist, but no. Any movie that suggests that Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are a viable couple gets my vote, plus this great scene was deleted:
This is comedy!
Knocked Up is a great movie, with two storylines and no loose threads. It features a lot of laughs, actually funny drug jokes, and a genuine dose of emotion. People have complained that it takes too much of a turn towards the sappy as it progresses but if you can’t handle that, get out of the movies.