Knocked Up (2007)

(On TV, January 2015)  I’m slowly getting up to speed on the comedy landmarks of the past decade, and Knocked Up certainly looms large on the list of unmissable films that I had managed to miss.  I’m not a big fan of Judd Apatow’s school of crude observational comedies: Their scripts feel loose, the laughs a bit weak, and far too many of the premises are based on cringe-worthy material.  I simply don’t identify with the result.  Knocked Up is, in many ways, an encapsulation of it all as it studies the aftermath of a one-night stand between a pot-addled slacker (Seth Rogen, who else?) and a wound-up career woman (Katherine Heigl, in something near a career high).  It does have the merit to use laughs as a way to address a complicated scenario, and in ways that won’t fail to resonate (even faintly) with any couple.  It can also boast of a cast of supporting that would become, later on, a credible who’s-who of American comedy films, from Paul Rudd to Jason Segel to Kristen Wiig to Jonah Hill to Ken Jeong to Jay Baruchel and so on.  There are poignant moments and silly laughs all wrapped up in a film that is daring enough to be noticeable, but not so much as to turn everyone against it: Traditional family values are espoused despite the raunchy details.  Still, the film feels long and meandering at times, and I’m at the stage in my life where I see the fable of “shlubby nerd gets hot girl” as more toxic than empowering.  (To summarize endless pages of hard-earned diatribes that go well beyond the scope of this review, my messages to my younger fellow nerds isn’t “be yourself and something magical will happen” but “grow up; it’s good for you”.)  But back on track: Knocked Up may not be everyone’s cup of tea (the sexism is undeniable and the stoner-chic movement has to go away), but it is a films of cultural significance when put alongside the films it drew from and those it inspired.  That’s something I’m willing to concede, even if I may not be the best public for its kind of laughs.

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