Knocked Up is a romantic comedy following the aftermath of a one-night stand between a stoner without a real job and a media personality whose job partially depends on looks. The only way to make this interesting would be to reverse the gender of these characters, but perhaps that’s too daring. The stoner is a male named Ben played by Seth Rogen, while the TV-person is Alison, played by Katherine Heigl. Could you imagine, though, if their roles were reversed? Now that’s what I call comedy.
Okay, so, the basic idea of the plot has already been covered. The decision is made to keep the baby, presumably because an abortion would end the movie way too soon. Ben and Alison try to get along, “for the sake of the baby,” and funny things happen along the way. Or, they’re supposed to happen. I might have laughed 5 times in this 129-minute movie. But, the comedy just didn’t appeal to me, so that’s fine. I accept that, and I know that, to some people, this will be the funniest movie ever. This is why reviewing comedies like this is almost pointless.
Essentially, I could spend this whole review telling you why I didn’t find it funny, or why it offended me — which it didn’t, by the way — or how writer-director Judd Apatow is sweet even though his dialogue is profane, or anything like that. I don’t know, exactly, what the point of it would be, but I could do it. Or, you could just watch a couple of clips online and if they make you laugh, you’ll probably find the whole movie enjoyable and should just go see it.
I can at least appreciate the attempt at humor. There are lazy comedies, which have few ideas and even fewer jokes, that just feel like they drag on and on until you finally bite the bullet. This one, at least there was a consistency to the whole production. You can see where the attempts at humor were, even if you personally don’t find them funny. I can appreciate that. And, yes, there is sort of a sweetness to it. Rom-coms kind of have to be sweet, don’t they? If they’re not, the people seeing it won’t be happy afterward. And that just won’t do for this genre.
The problem I have with it is that all of the conflict seems so forced and illogical. A man goes to hang out with some friends for a fantasy baseball draft, which is taken by his wife as “never wanting to spend time with his family; friends are more important.” She then tells him she doesn’t want him in the house anymore. Or how a man is thrown out of a car on the ride to the gynecologist’s just for saying that he can understand another person’s situation.
It’s drama for the sake of drama, because there has to be some sort of conflict that can be overcome at the end. If there isn’t, it’s just an incredibly dull drama about two people figuring out how to raise a baby in 9 months’ time. But, I have to wonder why the conflict always seems so forced? Is good script writing — most of which is, I presume, saved for the dramas — really that hard to come by? Most of the film seems mostly natural, so why does the conflict have to stick out like hockey player on a tennis court?
You have to hand it to Apatow, though, as he manages to get quite the cast together for the film. Many roles are one to two scene parts, but they feature some pretty well-known names. At the top of the supporting cast, we have Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, playing a married couple that Alison is staying with. Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and Martin Starr play Ben’s roommates. Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Alan Tudyk, Ken Jeong and Adam Scott all have bit parts, too. And there are also a handful of uncredited celebrity cameos scattered throughout.
All of the actors are fine, I suppose. Some of them appear to be playing themselves, like all of Ben’s roommates. They even play “characters” whose names are identical to those of their actors. Seth Rogen plays his typical stoner character, Katherine Heigl is sweet and likable, Leslie Mann gets to whine about a lot of people, and Paul Rudd is the charismatic and charming one. None of this should come as a shock, which further makes me think it would have been a whole lot funnier if the actors switched roles and played against type.
The funniest parts of Knocked Up, for me, were the bit parts played by funnier people. Jeong plays the doctor who ends up delivering the baby. Wiig and Tudyk play Alison’s bosses, and made me laugh more in their two scenes than most everyone else did for the rest of the film. I would have preferred the film spend more time with these characters and not the Alison/Ben team; everyone else was more interesting to be around.
I didn’t laugh at Knocked Up, but I can appreciate the attempts and I know there are lots of people who find it funny, so if you are on the fence about this one, look online for some clips and make up your mind for yourself. There is nothing harder to review than a comedy with such a basic concept. I did enjoy the supporting cast more than the primary one, and they actually got some laughs out of me. I maintain that seeing Heigl as the stoner and Rogen as the TV personality would have been much funnier, but, then, I don’t work in Hollywood.