Judd Apatow may just be the M. Night Shyamalan of adult comedy. His newest, “Knocked Up,” is just as funny, irreverent and relatable as his first successful directorial adventure, 2005’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Apatow has a knack for making secondary characters just as important to his stories as the leading stars. And just like “Virgin,” “Knocked Up” features a motley crew of degenerates, quirky character-actors and secondary plots that make this more than a movie about an unplanned pregnancy.
The story jumps right into the current lives of its leads — Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl of “Grey’s Anatomy” fame) is on her way up the ladder at E! Entertainment, while Ben Stone (Seth Rogen, one of the minions in “Virgin”) spends his days smoking weed and documenting sex scenes in movies for his latest Web site project. Alison and her sister (Leslie Mann) hit the bars to celebrate her promotion, and they run into Ben and his posse. Flirting is immediate. Drinking ensues. A one-night-stand is imminent.
In most cases, this ends at “I’ll call you sometime.” In Alison’s case, however, eight weeks later it was: “Hey, Ben, remember me? I’m pregnant.” The two then struggle to build a relationship amidst their vastly different lifestyles. She hopes to turn him into a more sensitive, competent and responsible person, while he’s just relieved they don’t have to use a condom for the next nine months.
Surrounding this main storyline are the hilarious supporting characters and their own intertwined, messed-up lives. You’ve got the dysfunctional relationship of Alison’s sister and her husband (Paul Rudd), who seem like they just can’t stand to be in each other’s company. And then you have Ben’s buddies, who are as over-sexed and immature as an episode of “Beavis and Butthead.”
The laughs do not stop. Most employ some form of dirty, raunchy, seventh-grade humor, but it didn’t become too redundant or immature in this context; Ben’s cluelessness about how to handle this “adult” situation, coupled with Alison’s more mature take on the matter, mixed with moments where both experience extreme freak-outs, make for a roller-coaster effect of humor and humility.
Katherine Heigl gives Alison a great balance of calm, responsible adult and crazed, hormone-monger whose baby daddy is much a child himself. And it doesn’t seem like a big stretch for Seth Rogen to portray Ben as an uninspired bum who has moments of sincerity and compassion.
Apatow once again successfully captures the humor in everyday life — whether the characters are thrown into extreme situations (pregnancy in this case, or a fear of sex in his last film) or simply filling out their day-to-day, mundane existence.
Bottom line: Use protection!