Movie Review: Knocked Up

Some movies lose the audience in the first ten minutes, with unrealistic characterization and uncomfortable plot points. Knocked Up comes close to doing that by presenting us with perhaps the most ineligible bachelors seen yet on screen. However, if people wait out the first half-hour of the movie, it develops into something rather touching, in its own way.
** Spoilers — be warned! **
Knocked Up tells a story about the consequences of one’s actions and poor decisions. Katherine Heigl (“Gray’s Anatomy”) plays Alison Scott, a young woman with a future in television. She finds out that E! wants to make her an on-camera talent, and she goes out to a hot nightclub with her sister Debbie, a frustrated thirtysomething wife and mother played by Leslie Mann. She hooks up with Ben Stone at the club (played by 40 Year Old Virgin supporting actor Seth Rogan) and celebrates a little too heartily. Both drunk, Ben foregoes a condom, and Alison winds up pregnant.
When Alison decides she wants to get Ben involved in the process, she discovers that Ben is about as far from father material — or boyfriend material — as possible. He has no job, he has no money, he has no car, and the only prospect he has for the future is his work on a website that tells visitors where to find the nude scenes in popular movies. The only regular work Ben does is smoking marijuana all day long with his buddies, only one of whom normal people would not feel embarassed engaging in public conversation.
That’s the low point of the film. In the beginning of the relationship, it’s hard to understand why a woman with so much on the ball as Alison would tolerate Ben, let alone allow him to become her boyfriend. Both Ben and Alison’s brother-in-law Pete have trouble balancing their male-bonding time, and in Ben’s case, it seems terminal.
Alison perseveres — for a while. She even begins to love Ben, because Ben finally starts to show some signs that he has progressed past the emotional age of 12. He seems to realize that he’s stuck in a case of arrested development, but can’t move forward towards adulthood, until Alison finally blows her stack. Ben then has to make some hard decisions about his life — and has to talk Alison into allowing him to have a second chance to prove himself as a man.
In the end, it’s a sweet movie about maturity and sacrifice. Heigl is luminous and vulnerable as Alison, especially when she sees Ben’s potential. Seth Rogan has great comic timing as Ben, and completely sells the fact that Ben is clueless about social graces, saying whatever comes to mind — and not in a good way. Paul Rudd’s Pete really captures the disconnect that some men feel in their thirties when the beer buddies have disappeared from your life.
Two other well-known actors make brief but important appearances in the film. Joanne Kerns (“Growing Pains”) plays the mother of Alison and Debbie, and she tells Alison to get rid of the baby when she finds out about the pregnancy. Harold Ramis plays Ben’s father, who delivers a nugget of wisdom that I didn’t expect to hear from a Hollywood movie. “An earthquake is a catastrophe,” he tells Ben. “This is a blessing.” As someone who found himself in that position, I wanted to hug Harold Ramis, and the two lead characters, for understanding that.
The film is uneven but eventually satisfying. It also has plenty of laughs along the way, and they outweigh the cringe-inducing things Ben says at times, especially in the first part of the movie. It should be a definite addition to the summer movie list, but be warned — there are plenty of drug references and sexually explicit talk in the movie. If that bothers you, even if showing how damaging drugs can be to the maturation process, then perhaps you may want to avoid getting Knocked Up.

5 thoughts on “Movie Review: Knocked Up”

  1. I hate the movie’s title, and therefore will not consider spending perfectly good money on it to reward whichever Hollywood ticks put it out. The advertisements on TV also seem to reinforce my impression of sniggering juvenality so I think I’ll just order some nice old classic from Netflix.

  2. I don’t have any desire to shift though the mountain of manure to find the pony. I’ll pass on this one.

  3. I agree with the above. From several who went to see it, the most memorable part of the movie is how often the “F” word made it into dialogue, even though they seemed to enjoy the story.
    I wont even bother renting the DVD of this one when it comes out.

  4. Kudos to you Ed, for throwing this on your website – especially given the number of older “more traditional” regulars you have around here that you’re bound to pi** off.
    Sure it was juvenile, silly and over the top at points, but I thought the film was surprisingly good and surprisingly real.
    To each his own.

  5. This is an excellent movie. The message is so positive that even my wife loved it, and she will generally avoid a lot of things if they have foul language.
    Real people make poor choices and use foul language. If we cut that out of movies we just have unreal fantasies.

Comments are closed.