Warning! This site contains satire, cynical adult humor, celebrity gossip, and an occasional peanut by-product or two!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Knocked Up

My friend Dale (not the delightfully devilish Dale, the oh-so-male manager of the Essex Cinemas, but the equally esoteric and entertaining Dale of the female variety of Dales) and I went to the Essex Cinemas on Friday and checked out the new comedy, Knocked Up. This film had been getting a lot of pre-release buzz because it was from the same guy, Judd Apatow, who wrote and directed The 40 Year Old Virgin, which didn’t exactly hurt Steve Carrel’s career, you know what I mean, but I was more interested in seeing how Kathryn Heigel was going to do than anything else. I’ll admit it. I’m a hopeless estrogen-driven Grey’s Anatomy junkie, and as far as I am concerned Heigel is THE star of that show, even if she doesn’t play the title character. Maybe creator Shonda Rimes should have looked at the screen tests more closely and done a quick rewrite before they started filming, but it is too late now. Ellen Pompeo is Meredith Grey and Kathryn Heigel plays Isabel “Izzy” Stevens, but ~ trust me ~ she is still the star, and so it is only natural that she be the first from the cast of the hit ABC show to break out with her own major film (yeah, I know Dr. McDreamy has been in movies, but that was before Grey’s. I’m talking as a result of the show’s exposure). And speaking of exposure, Heigel certainly gets a chance to expose her… well, I’m getting ahead of myself.

So Dale and I squirreled ourselves away in the top row, surprised at the number of adults who were on hand to see this R rated comedy in the middle of the afternoon on a “school day.” Have you ever noticed that it will always be a “school day” to you even if you are 50 and been out of school for
more than 30 years? Nobody asks “What are you doing here on a work day?” It’s always a school day, even if you can’t get into this movie without a parent’s permission if you are of school age, and you probably shouldn’t be here even with their okay. Still, knowing how slack most parents are these days, they’ll probably have their eight year olds’ birthday party at this one and not put two brain cells together ahead of time to think about the rating. Then they’ll scream and rant at poor Dale (the theater manager one) and demand their money back for all dozen of the little nippers after they’ve trashed the Cineplex and spilled their sodas and popcorn and bugged the bejeezus out of the people in the six rows around them because the parents were offended when they saw some nudity and heard some swearing in an R-rated feature called Knocked Up. I guess it’s just one more example of how anybody can have a baby, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to know how to be a parent, which has a lot to do with the plot of Knocked Up as a matter of fact.

I suppose when the movie started I knew the general plotline but I hadn’t really given it too much thought. I mean,
Knocked Up is pretty self-explanatory. We’ve all been there, well at least most of half of the world anyway. I just didn’t expect screenwriter Apatow to so blatantly steal my own life story and turn it into his movie. Oh sure, a few details were changed, and the names were different, but I think I’d have a case if I wanted to sue, which I don’t. It was just weird, seeing my 20s rehashed like this. Heigel (Caffeine) plays Alison Scott, a vivacious, incredibly talented, brilliant, beautiful, blonde, modest, single woman in her early 20s (see how closely they got that part right?) who is fortunate enough to work in the television industry and receives an amazing promotion one day, which sends her out on the town to celebrate. Several beers, mojitos, and who knows what later, she brings home Ben Stone (Seth Rogen; You, Me & Dupree), for a night of sex followed by that grim morning-after realization that beer goggles have a way of making men far from good look good from afar. The only problem is that the alcoholic haze fades by morning and he’s not far enough away ~ like on another land mass where they speak a different language. Instead, he is laying naked on your 300-count Martha Stewart sheets leaving God-only knows what kind of excretions on them and loose curlies that you don’t want to think about. At least Alison was mature enough not to cringe about the fact that she had definitely traded down in this arrangement, but she had. Besides the fact that Ben was a porn-hustling freak with no real job, no money, no goals, no home of his own, and he was not even a tax payer or an American citizen (he was proud to be an illegal pot-smoking and selling slacker French Canadian living here on a long-expired visa). Thank goodness, Alison realized, that one night stands are only one night long.

The movie isn’t called
Knocked Up for no reason though, and even Jessica Simpson could probably connect the dots on this one. Eight weeks later, our little Alison is beginning to feel not so little anymore. Even the wardrobe dresser at the studio where she works notices that she’s “gained seven or eight pounds, all in the uterus.” Soon the moral compass who thinks nothing of screwing complete strangers she meets in bars is insisting that she’d never have an “’A’ word”, as if the feminists of the 1970s and ‘80s fought so long and hard so that the mere word “abortion” could now be spoken of only by a designation consonant, like the infamous “’N’ word”. Of course, an abortion would have made for a very short and decidedly unfunny film, so Alison decides to learn to love the father of her unborn baby even if it is Ben.

What follows is a mixed bag of sweet and sour scenes loaded with funny lines, a lot of them crude, rude, and socially insensitive, which makes them all the more laughable. Leslie Mann (Stealing Harvard) plays Debbie, Alison’s older sister, and she and husband Pete (Paul Rudd; Night at the Museum) as Deb’s wealthy but whipped husband present a hysterical subplot as Pete tries to escape her browbeating ways and Deb meanwhile intensifies her efforts as a learning experience to teach her sister how to control her man in the years ahead.

I think the only gripe I’d have with the movie is with the inclusion of five (!) roommates/best friends/potheads/whatevers as Ben’s “family” of friends. They take up way too much of the movie’s
time and the payoff is not nearly worth the investment. There is a dumbass running gag about one guy in the group making a bet not to cut his hair for a year in exchange for free rent. So this entitles the roomies the opportunity to drop sarcastic comments about his “look” throughout the rest of the movie, calling him things like “Shoe Bomber,” “Jesus,” and crap like that. It gets tired fast.
The best non-essential-to-the-plot moments come from a cameo by Ryan Seacrest, playing himself. He finally gets to say those things you just know he has been dying to say about some of the vapid celebrities he interviews for E! for the longest time. His comments about Jessica Simpson in particular are bound to make him an enemy for life, but it is worth it just to make us laugh, and, God Bless him, I have a whole new respect for the diminutive host and his dirty mouth. You go, Ryan!

Anyway, by the time Alison was ready to deliver, I swear so was I. She was in the hospital, doing what all women do, screaming and pushing, and I found myself unable to resist the call to do the same, but here I was with my feet up on the back of the seat in front of me (a taboo at the theater, I know, but I couldn’t help it), breathing deep from the diaphragm and pushing down hard. Dale looked over at me with one of those ‘What is wrong with you’ expressions on her face. “I smell something funny,” she said. “I think my water just broke,” I answered, praying nothing worse had been set free.

Fortunately, the baby was delivered in record time so I did not need to regret not wearing Depends to the theater that day, but you may want to consider them for yourself if you have a tendency to “leak” a wee bit when you laugh a lot, because you will definitely do that at
Knocked Up. If you are up for R rated material, I’d make Knocked Up a “must see” at the Essex Cinemas before it goes. It is the funniest movie so far this year.

No comments: