Knocked Up. Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl star in a film written and directed by Judd Apatow
Judd Apatow is a pretty talented guy. He delivered Freaks & Geeks, one of the great television programs of the early ’00s and then went on to write and direct The 40-Year-Old Virgin, which simultaneously turned Steve Carell into a household name and revitalized the flagging enterprise known as contemporary American comedy. As such, a lot of expectations come packaged with Knocked Up, his latest release as writer and director.
The film is a simple tale of a lovable loser, Ben (Seth Rogen), who scores with Alison (Grey’s Anatomy’s Katherine Heigl), a gorgeous staffer at E! Television Network in an inebriated one-night stand. She becomes pregnant and they decide to give parenthood a chance.
On paper, the premise sounds predictable, even tired, but Apatow has written a razor-sharp screenplay which delivers laughs for the entirety of the film’s two-hour-plus runtime. A comedy longer than 90 minutes is usually commercial suicide, but Knocked Up leaves its audience wanting more. From the moment it starts-resurrecting Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s seminal “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” as Ben and his stoner roommates engaged in bouts of improvised American Gladiators-style combat-you know you’re in good hands.
Much of the film is eminently quotable, but some of its rarest pleasures are ineffable moments. One of these involves an aggressive bouncer and is one of the finest scenes of any big-screen comedy in recent history. And a classic comedy diatribe takes place when the always phenomenal Paul Rudd expresses his psychologically questionable preference for a specific chair.
I daresay that the sharply observed characters and situations, as well as the empathy that underlies Apatow’s treatment of all the characters, recall Woody Allen. With Knocked Up, Apatow has proven that he may be a worthy successor to the throne of American comedy.