Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Knocked Up

Knocked Up is the sort of film title that has one scanning the small print for the phrase "by the director of Dumb and Dumber". The premise: gorgeous, successful woman has drunken sex with a complete stranger (an obese looser no less) and 8 weeks later tracks him down to guilt-trip him into playing daddy - suggests that this was the sort of crass American comedy you wouldn't go out of your way to tell your more high brow friends that you had spent good money to see.

I really enjoyed it.

Perhaps it was a case of reality exceeding low expectations or else this movie is more subtle than it appears on the surface. On the surface it looks like a romantic other-side-of-the-track, chick's world vs guy's world, coping-with-pregnancy comedy with a side dish of slacker humour. While these components are there; I didn't feel I was rooting for an against-the-odds relationship, for the chicks to beat the guys or for the slackers to come out on top, these (and many other things) are vehicles for humour not ends in themselves.

Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is the young career woman who's drunken celebration leads her to take Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) home for some sexual relief. Alison's home a flat in is the garden of sister Debbie (Leslie Mann), her husband Pete (Paul Rudd) and their two little girls. The deteriorating relationship between the critical, nagging Debbie and the alternately sarcastic and passive Pete form the B plot (A surprising use of anti-role models). Ben, who has never had a job, shares a house with some similar friends. Don't expect gritty realism here, these losers are Canadian losers, slumming it south of the border but essentially nice, civilized blokes under that crass veneer.

Eight weeks later Alison, carrying a psychological shotgun, tracks Ben down to 'offer' him the job of father without the perks of sex. She is beautiful, he is desperately optimistic; and father-to-be will at least get his foot in the door now and then. Initially Ben is only paying lip service to his new role, but he is as faithful as a puppy, and comes creeping back even when kicked -- and Alison kicks him hard, low and often. He eventually changes into some semblance of the new age father she is looking for (validating Debbie earlier assertion that you need to change your man rather than accept him as he is). I don't think Alison comes to love Ben but she does come to rely on him.

Instead of a single style of humour (eg farce, The Office, Jim Carrey) or a single overall situation (e.g. mistaken identity) there is a scattergun approach. Ben and his friends are movie buffs so there are some in-jokes about movies in their scenes in addition to the toilet humour and visual gags. When Alison is at work we have digs at management v employee relations in corporate (but PC) America. There are marital disputes to make you squirm and virtually everyone bar the kids have body image issues. There is even meta humour in having all the marriages in the film going badly and a couple of funny impression gags.

All in all, there are a lot of different types of humour going on here, on a bunch of issues, to match a wide range of tastes. You won't find all of it funny and you won't identify with all the characters, but there should be plenty for most people to laugh at. While it wasn't perfect with flaws from the basic premise through to the prosthetic tummy (which didn't match Katherine Heigl skin colour in the same way that flesh coloured underwear or pantyhose never do). But it was certainly worth double the $6 I paid at Hoyts last night.

Ian's rating: 4/5

1 comment:

  1. It is indicative of the current US political climate that the abortion option is covered in less than 10 seconds and the A word is not actually uttered!