You can read about my expectations for Judd Apatow's current box office hit Knocked Up here, and I am pleased to report that the movie actually did exceed my expectations! I like to guess what tone a movie is going to take by the trailers that are shown right before it, and the pre-show experience was a little bit of a red herring this time. Trailers were for the standard teen comedy fare (including Superbad, which I am excited for...), whose audience Knocked Up certainly appealed to, but the characters and the situations they got into were so believable and well-crafted, that I think older moviegoers could have had as much fun watching it as teenagers could.
On a message board I frequent, someone said that they liked how the film portrayed both sides of a conflict evenly, without vilifying either side. I thought this was a great way to express what I liked so much about the movie. It is true that not every argument has a right answer or party, and I was glad to be reminded of that by the interactions between the two couples. That alone was enough to make me, as a viewer, feel like a friend to all of the main characters. I didn't want to pick sides, because I sympathized with everyone. It may not seem like much, but to be able to appeal to male and female audience members equally using humor is something that I am very impressed by.
Secondary and tertiary actors Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Harold Ramis, and Kristen Wiig were excellent. Ramis was perfectly cast as Seth Rogen's father, and Wiig is one of SNL's best assets right now (do a YouTube search for "SNL" + "Body Fusion" or "Sloths" or the eponymous "Dick in a Box," and you'll see what I mean). Her comedy is borne out of restrained displeasure, and it gets me every time. Paul Rudd - who, first of all, has gotten way better looking with age - played such a good counterpart to Leslie Mann, because they seemed so polar even though they were realistic enough to have shades of each other's characters in themselves. I just wish they could have used Firefly's Alan Tudyk a little more.
I think Apatow uses weed humor as a bit of a crutch, when there are always plenty of other elements to his stoner characters that could elicit laughs. I thought the celebrity nude scene humor was awesome, and just the sort of quotable fare that will make this movie last. The ribbing among Ben and his friends was just too funny. Too, too funny. I'm cracking up a little bit at work right now, and I'd hate to draw attention to the fact that I'm blogging on the clock...
Katherine Heigl was beautiful, and played the vulnerable yet capable character very well. I thought she emoted at all the right times, but wasn't simply a hormonal mess. At a couple of points she was a little too reminiscent of the character of Izzie Stevens, whom I've grown to dislike, but it's hard to say if that's more my fault than hers.
There were a couple of points at which I wondered how audiences at large would react to the possibly pro-life sentiment displayed by the film. Neither of the main characters really considers abortion or adoption, and the two supporting characters who suggest the former option do it so cruelly that I would think few audience members could sympathize with them. I think this is interesting in light of how common alternatives to keeping an unplanned baby are displayed in the media, compared to how much more common it is for Americans to raise their unplanned kids. I was glad to see that Apatow didn't force Ben and Alison to have a shotgun wedding in order to appease those put off by the premarital baby-making, because I don't think it would have made much sense for the characters.
B.J. Novak's cameo was well-played, but my giddiness at the prolonged presence of real-life doctor and ...sensual... comedian Dr. Ken makes me want to leave you with one thing: