Saturday, June 30, 2007

Knocked Up (2007, Judd Apatow)

People need to stop bitching about how long this is in my opinion. Yes, we all know that comedies should only be 90 minutes long. But I'd be selling this movie short if I thought it was merely a comedy. Yes, it's often hilarious- there are surprisingly few dry patches among the obvious comedy scenes. But Apatow's game plan here is less like THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN than like FREAKS AND GEEKS- using the funny to leaven the dramatic scenes. There has also been some complaining that the film's central relationship- smokin' career woman Heigl and unemployed shlub Rogen- strains credibility, and admittedly this is a little hard to swallow if you don't think Rogen is awesome. However, I do, and he's pretty damn great here- funny as hell, as expected, but also more than pulling his weight in the more serious moments (helps that he has a better face for drama than, say, Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller). Heigl holds up her end of the bargain too, projecting a real intelligence and sensitivity so that her role doesn't turn into a killjoy or worse, eye candy. But what distinguishes this from a facile pregnancy dramedy a la SHE'S HAVING A BABY is the storyline involving Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as an uneasily married couple, one that addresses some thorny issues in marriages and relationships. Whereas a plot thread like this would in a lesser movie feel mostly like a little break for the main stars, here it comes off less as a garden-variety subplot as something akin to a counter-melody in music, complementing the main story while possessing an emotional tenor all its own. And as good as Rudd is, it's Mann who shines in these scenes- she's never had a chance to really dig into a role like she does here, and the character feels like a gift from Apatow, her husband (also, their kids, who appear as Rudd and Mann's daughters, have clearly benefited from their comedic pedigree). Good stuff all around- I plan to see it again soon, and I don't anticipate it dipping in quality the second time the way THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN did- funny as that was, this one's funnier, and deeper besides. Rating: 7 out of 10.

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