Fresh and funny take on a familiar issue

2008-10-02 08:05

An unexpected pregnancy is not an unusual subject for a movie, and it is quite something that this one manages to be fresh. Knocked Up deals with a fairly ordinary predicament in a way that is original, funny and frank.

Alison (Katherine Heigl) is in her early twenties, gorgeous and poised on the brink of a dream career with E! Entertainment TV. She doesn't, however, seem to have much of a social life, and lives with her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and her sister's husband Pete (Paul Rudd).

One night, celebrating a promotion at a club with her sister, she meets Ben (Seth Rogen). Ben is chubby, unemployed and socially inept. He lives in a messy commune with a group of stoner friends who are, like him, Jewish Canadians staying in America illegally. Their aim in life is to set up a website featuring a database of film stars' naked scenes.

Alison is so far out of Ben's league that it's a stretch to imagine them together, but get together they do, for an excruciating, drunken one night stand. Alison seems thrilled to be rid of Ben the next morning, but a few weeks later, she has to call him: she's pregnant. The rest of the movie deals with how the couple come to terms with the responsibility that's growing inside Alison. Ben has to learn to leave his bachelor life behind him to become a good dad, and Alison has to come to terms with the sacrifices she must make. But the couple have little to work from: their only example of marriage and children is Alison's sister, whose life seems picture perfect on the surface but whose marriage is a constant clash of incompatible personalities.

This might sound like a rather boring plot - I certainly expected it to be - but the script is so witty and humane, it really works. It's not like there's anything new here, it's just that the reactions one might expect are dealt with in a way that is hilarious - and very explicit.

Most of the humour lies in the interactions between Ben's amiable, loser friends, their laddishness and obsession with sex, and their repartee, dripping with pop culture references and scatalogical jokes. This is a great movie: really funny (if you're not easily offended), and macho, but not afraid to be sweet or intelligent.

****

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