DIRECTED BY JUDD APATOW
STARRING: SETH ROGEN, KATHERINE HEIGL, JASON SEGAL, JAY BARUCHEL, JONAH HILL, LESLIE MANN, PAUL RUDD, MARTIN STARR, CHARLYNE YI, IRIS APATOW, MAUDE APATOW with KRISTEN WIIG, BILL HADER and KEN JEONG
The best thing about Judd Apatow is that jokes apart, he’s about family. Or that’s how I see him at least. I see him as the guy who’d even tag-team with his wife (Leslie Mann) in a laughter routine where they belt dirty joke after another and then wind up the day with a family dinner laden with ‘chocolate milk’. Harris Stone (Harold Ramis) as our Ben’s (Seth Rogen) father makes a brief come-and-go appearance as one who asked his Son to not do pot while he did it every other day. Alison’s (Katherine Heigl) mother (Joanna Kerns) on the other hand asks her daughter to ‘take care of it’ because she’s got a career ahead and that it’s ‘not the right time’. We’re full aware of the conflicting backgrounds of our characters, and I still had one curious question in mind – which one of these individual sparkles is Apatow in his full-blown, original manifestation? Surely he had shades of both Ben and Pete (Rogen and Rudd) who help each other into their respective families even if they can't help themselves. And then, like I mentioned, we have Ben's father. Even the doorman at the club (a cameo by Craig Robinson) appears and perpetrates possibly the best scene in the film. Yet, and I’m only taking a wild shot here, I happen to find his women with the writer's driving force in getting their men to take charge. Catherine Keener’s character in ‘the 40-Year old Virgin’ is followed up in a split between the Scott sisters (Heigl & Mann), who lead a struggle against and alongside their respective men, not to mention a densely-packed pack of slap-happy friends.
We pity them as much as we scorn them, for they are likeable despite doses of bitterness. After all, women don’t all ‘come’ sweet. Neither does life.
I wouldn’t call ‘Knocked Up’ a film about an unexpected pregnancy in the real sense of the word. It’s a film about an impossible pregnancy, one that 9 women out of 10 would terminate. You would not like a man like Ben to father your child, let alone be around to raise him/her. He is a funny man, yes, he’s fair bait for Vince Vaughn as he puts it, but you have the whole rest of the film as circumstantial evidence; it’s a disaster-sequence except it all ends fine. We’re watching a one-in-a-million chance that could potentially come with a disclaimer. Or perhaps Apatow would beg to differ. Either way, it’s a gestation period you’d readily swap for guilt on the absence of it, but the woman keeps the baby, delivers it in a bout of exceedingly original comedy – something Apatow and his lot would go on to make a trademark of – and the film reconciles with itself in form of an ending. And we do the same with ourselves, for we have spent the last couple of hours with the nastiest of jokes as well as a fair amount of heart.
Judd Apatow proves his worth in turning a not-so-uncommon premise and a less-than-perfect bunch of actors (Katherine Heigl in particular, wild with all her blondeness and yet short of sensational) who work together to give us something so likeable that it lingers. The excessiveness of obscenity in his humour, particularly in the physicality of it could turn out to be bothersome. But he more than makes up for it with some memorable jokes that you can carry right with you to a dinner table at a college party. There’s a Kevin Smith fearlessness coupled with Semitic fire, and he giftwraps it in a casual, yet slightly goofed-up tone that spells ‘Seth Rogen’. I can never get enough of that man.
At the very beginning of the film, the group of friends discuss ‘Munich’ and how it was the first film to have portrayed Jews as killers than victims. Eric Bana, who plays the protagonist in ‘Munich’, is unanimously hailed as the very reason that they get laid these days. Coincidentally, Eric Bana lands a role in Apatow’s next directorial venture ‘Funny People’, where he plays an Australian. Just a thought, let it not bother you. Go savour the film if you haven’t already. If you have, then you should go over it again like I did: you’ll find it never gets too old.