Idol Chatter

Though he started out writing some of the most sparkling comedy on television back in the ’90s (“Freaks and Geeks,” “The Ben Stiller Show”) director/writer Judd Apatow has been given the dubious distinction of producing a new genre of film–romantic comedies for men. Following up the box office success of “The Forty Year Old Virgin”–a raunchy comedy about a man who is stunted emotionally but finds true love–Apatow brings us “Knocked Up,” a raunchy comedy about a man who is stunted emotionally but finds true love.

But while I felt “Virgin” never really rose about its “Animal House”-style gags, “Knocked Up” has some unexpected moments of depth and sweetness in between the fratboy hi-jinks. Whether that means the film’s ultimately pro-family message is lost amidst the alcohol shots, constant obscenities, and gross-out moments is something worth debating at the water cooler–because I personally don’t have an answer to that question yet.

“Knocked Up” begins by introducing the audience to Allison Scott (Katherine Heigel) , a successful talk show personality on the E! Network, and Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), a slacker who lives with his equally unmotivated stoner pals somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. They meet at a bar and have a drunken one-night stand, but they are then faced with the consequences of their actions when Allison discovers she is pregnant. With the not always helpful advice of Allison’s sister and brother-in-law, Deb and Pete, the mismatched couple decide they should at least try to see if they can form some kind of relationship for the future of their child.

There are plenty of predictable moments in the film–Ben and his buddies spend their free time working on launching a soft-core porn site, Ben tries to connect with his equally emotionally stunted father, and so on. But the film rises above being more than a risqué romp in the moments between Allison and Deb and in the moments between Pete and Ben. During a moment in a Vegas hotel room, Pete confesses to Ben that he realizes that he is the one with issues, not Deb, because the biggest problem he has is that Deb desires to spend more time with him because she loves him so much. (Now granted, this monologue is fueled by illegal substances, but it’s still touching.

At the same moment in time, Allison and Deb–who have been denied entry to a swanky night club–receive a hilarious yet profound scolding from the club’s bouncer. In both instances, the shallowness and selfishness of the choices all of these characters make is revealed, and they begin to make healthy changes in their lives.

Which leads back to the question of whether or not the movie’s more intelligent moments justify the more salacious ones. This movie is absolutely not for everyone, and those with more conservative tastes should steer clear. On the other hand, in his own style, Apatow has offered a unique moral compass to all of the Millenialists who flocked to this film this last weekend. Most of all “Knocked Up” makes me hope that Apatow will apply his insight and talent to something a little more subtle and a lot more more saavy in the future.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus