Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Knocked Up (2007)

Knocked Up (Judd Apatow, 2007)

Ben Stone (a very likable Seth Rogen) is a marijuana-smoking, dreamless yet hopelessly romantic loser. Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is extremely beautiful (meaning good enough to be seen interviewing Hollywood celebrities in a tabloid television show), unbelievably nice and patient. During a night that can only exist in wet dreams or modern-day fairy tales (at least for the men not gifted with irresistible suave), beauty meets the beast. They sleep together in drunken abandon resulting in a huge mistake. Alison gets pregnant and poor shocked Ben, who is living off the remainder of the meager money he won in a suit while waiting for the launch of his gang's informative website, is the father.

Never mind that major contrivance. It is the fuel that keeps the film together. It is supposedly writer-director Judd Apatow's gift to the most of us, to the men who can't seem to earn those desirable six-pack abs or that elusive successful career --- the livable fantasy that we can attract members of the highest echelon of the opposite sex and through sheer determination and focus, get them to kiss us, bed us, and eventually make us happy, deservedly or not. Apatow's works are popular and acclaimed exactly for that generosity to the most common of men, the twenty, thirty, and forty year old virgins and the fat slobs whose entire lives consist of porn, compadres, and whatever manna that drops from heaven. It seems that Apatow is building a career serving the public what they predictably want. It's not exactly daring, not ground-breaking.

Nevertheless, Knocked Up is not only an effective romantic comedy, it is also veritably compassionate, something very rare in today's crop of comedies. Sure, Apatow plays his stereotypes to the extreme --- Ben and his troop are seen either engulfed in medicinal smoke or in intense discussion of their life plans, while Alison lives in the tidied family haven of her sister (Leslie Mann) and her husband (Paul Rudd), both of which are also pumped up stereotypes (neurotic wife and cynical and secretive husband, respectively).

Apatow squeezes out a good amount of laughs and chuckles from the artificial situations and his crew of characters (played with agreeable credence by his band of comedians, which is probably why it's very difficult to see right through the contrivances), and that provides most of the distraction while Apatow readies his picture for the lovingly crafted emotional wallop, which I think is worth all the hype this film is getting. Admittedly, the comedy is lowbrow and vulgar but it eases near-perfectly with Apatow's message of utter sentimentality and conservatism.

And even the film's so-called heart, Apatow gathers from both gut instinct and genre conventions. The flailing relationship between Ben and Alison and their struggle to look past the outrageous differences between them, is a mere conjunct and abbreviation of several comedies, sitcoms and of course, real life. It's all well-taken, probably not perfectly developed, but quite amusing in its familiarity.

Birth, at least for that portion of humanity that still considers it as a miracle, is an absolution of all past mistakes. It has that tremendous power that allows us to take the violent, shrieking, shocking and even physically revolting proceeding (Apatow allows us a peek at the very graphic moments of childbirth from a view traditionally left unseen) and still consider it uplifting and memorable (enough for most families to take pictures and videos of the event). Apatow understands that and decides to cap his often conventional, sometimes brash comedy with childbirth, leaving his audience with a feeling of extreme elation, forgetful or forgiving that the film was oftentimes visually uninteresting, humorously off-tangent, or repetitive.


Shinji said...

I am completely biased towards this film. I think it got me with Seth Rogen playing the lead. Fat kids shall rule the universe soon enough. Haha!

Oggs Cruz said...

Seth Rogen is the epitome of geek chic (a term I recently got from watching Tyra Banks --- I love bum life), and yeah, he's very very likable here. The entire cast is likable, thus, the film is likable.

Shinji said...

Wow Tyra Banks! I hate her, sometimes she could be so pretentious. But, it's funny when you watch her in her dramatic moments.

Like there's this one time when fat pictures of her went out in the magazines. Then she walked on stage in her underwear just to prove that she's not fat. I mean, who does that? Sobrang defensive niya.

Anyway, yeah. The cast was likable, though sometimes, medyo nakakainis sila Jonah Hill. Ang bastos eh. Pero it was funny. Haha!

Oggs Cruz said...

Tyra is defensive, but she's immensely watchable. If I'm gonna watch a woman talk to a bunch of boring people, I'd rather have her pretty, with two bountiful knockers, and nice legs (definitely not one with weight problems and a huge man-voice, and a lesbian with no dancing talent but decides to do so everytime she's on air). I go for the ex-model who tries so hard to be relevant, it's hilarious... and to segue to Knocked Up, yes that movie is hilarious.

Shinji said...

Are you talking about Ellen? Hahaha! I'd settle for Rachel Ray. Or sometimes I enjoy Martha Stewart. But, yeah Tyra's fine.

Oh and the Tyra Banks Show got a cameo in Mr. Woodcock. I just saw it.

Oggs Cruz said...

Oprah and Ellen, respectively. I havent seen Ray yet, or Stewart. Springer is a guilty pleasure for sleepless nights.

Mr. Woodcock, no thanks... there's a European Film Festival in Shang... I got no room for Hollywood right now.

Joseph B. said...

I'm so completely in love with Leslie Mann. Not only is she brilliant here, but the timing of her delivery is what makes great comedy. And who could forget her scene-stealing few minutes in "The 40 Year Old Virgin" as the drunk girl who drives Steve Carrell home. Comedy usually isn't my cup 'o' tea, but Apatow makes it work.

Shinji said...

Waaaah. I wanted to go to Cine Europa. We were supposed to watch Knocked Up again yesterday. But apparently Gateway showed both knocked up and mr. woodcock on the same cinema. Parang hati lang yung sked.

Eh gabi pa yung knocked up. Shit. No choice. Anyway. I gotta read your reviews from Cine Europa, man!

dodo dayao said...

Are you officially living the "bum life" now, oggs? Welcome to the club. :) Gawa na tayong pelikula! Hehe.

On Knocked Up - - -funny little piece. But also quite scary for both men and women, talking about the when Heigl goes psycho on Seth and when she starts giving painful birth, respectively.

A friend of mine calls it a unisex horror story. Hehe.

Oggs Cruz said...

Thanks Joseph, Shinji and Dodo,

Shinji, you should go check out CineEuropa for these reasons... First, it's free. Second, most of the films are better than what's currently showing in theaters. Third, Fanny and Alexander in 35mm, you'll lose the youth out of your body for about a week, fun times!

Dodo, yeah, bum for the mean time. I'm scared of work and the real life so I'm prolonging it until my mom starts strangling me to apply for a job. Knocked Up is a comedy for everyone which makes me wonder why it isn't earning money here. I saw it in Galleria and there were around 20 in the theater.

Joseph, Leslie is really hot which makes her neurotic comments on how old and ugly she's looking all the funnier.

Shinji said...

Holy shit it's in 35mm? I thought they're just gonna play a DVD copy of it. That's why I kinda ruled out attending it. I've read from Jessica Zafra's blog that 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' was shown using a dvd copy of the film.

But noooow... Wait, yeah. I'll go there. Tomorrow! Oh no, wait. We have a high school movie marathon (Jawbreaker, Idle Hands, Can't Hardly Wait, you know...) The day after tomorrow, then!

Oh shit. Lust, Caution previews tomorrow! And it's uncut! YEAH! That one first.

Oggs Cruz said...

They use DVDs for most of the films, probably except Fanny and Alexander and La Vie en Rose (which is too recent to have a DVD copy of, unless it's an Academy screener). If you want to catch Bergman's film, last chance is this Sunday at 4pm.

Lust, Caution... It will probably be better than the gay cowboy film (it has Tony Leung)... I'll check it out, I guess.

jayclops said...

I liked Knocked Up so much but I was caught up with this conversation with a friend that I should be thinking if the film kind of glorified or sympathized on the character of Rogen that it sometimes is to the detriment of Heigl's character. I haven't been too the situation of the couple but I laud the fact that Apatow is pulling a lighter and different take on what could've been melodramatic and overbearing. Whatchuthink? :D

Oggs Cruz said...

True, Rogen is painted better. Heigl turns out to be a bit illogical and bitchy at times. It's not really a concern for me though, and I liked Apatow's take on the topic.