Knocked Up

Posted by Marc Hodak on May 25, 2008 under Movie reviews | Comments are off for this article

Too late for the epidural.

Like most romantic comedies, Knocked Up is basically about placing mismatched elements A and B in a crucible, throwing in a catalyst, and watching the crazy reaction as they become a bonded pair. In this case element A, Allison Scott, played by the stunning Katherine Heigl, is a girl that pretty much has it all together; she’s a junior producer on E! network who just got a promotion. Element B, Ben Stone, played by the lumpy Seth Rogan, is as his last name implies someone who would rather wake up to some good weed, and without much of a planning horizon beyond that.

I’ve never seen Heigl before on TV or in film. Now, I could watch her all day long. I hear she plays a doctor on TV. In this film she plays a patient looking for a decent Ob-Gyn. But this film is really about what she’s looking for in the man who impregnated her. Decency is a given. Ben is immediately taken with Allison–who wouldn’t be–and quickly owns up to his responsibility. Allison is a decent person, too, so it’s not like he has to take the good with the bad on that count.

The “baby on the way” is, of course, the catalyst in this crucible. The pregnancy establishes the timetable for this relationship as well as the pace of this movie. The birth itself happens at such a pace that the doctor must tell Allison that there is no time for the epidural. That’s how comedy works–we laugh at the pain of the characters. The acting and writing was uniformly good–a perfect Apatow blend of goofy and grounded.

I think that romantic comedy endings are scarce in real life because people are too impatient to let a relationship grow, or tend to succumb to the destructive fantasy of “the one for me.” I’ve always believed that two strangers stranded on an island would figure out how to make it work happily ever after…or there would soon enough be only one left. But no two people are on an island. We’re inundated with choices and friends and relatives and all the rest of civilization telling us “you can do better.” And lots of unhappy relationships.

I read that Heigl got banged up a little about comments about this films “sexism.” I’m sure the public reaction was overly politicized and highly unfair. She clearly liked making this film, and did a fabulous job. One of the things I have liked about Apatow films have been their apolitical nature, which is often misinterpreted as “politically incorrect.” Politically incorrect is what a Mel Brooks did. Everyone else is just a pretender.

In terms of realism, the incident about the epidural was apparently right on. My sister-in-law heard those very words last week as she (rather quickly) gave birth to my newest niece, Mia Hodak. Congratulations Manny and Chelly!

My son, Sam had highly recommended Knocked Up to me some time back. Sam has good taste in films. I think he got it from his dad. It’s interesting to contemplate, this Memorial Day, what my memory of the world will be when Mia grows up to be her cousin’s age. And what will an Apatow film from ’07 look like to her when she’s old enough to get them? I hope to be able to ask her.

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