Alison Scott: I was drunk!
Ben Stone: Was your vagina drunk?
Knocked Up is a 2007 film about a 23-year-old ne'er-do-well named Ben Stone, played by Seth Rogen, who inadvertently knocks up a really hot chick with beer goggles on, Alison Scott, played by Katherine Heigl. It is the second in a series of View Askew-esque films that reuse writers, actors, and producers and have a similar style of humor, following 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin and succeeded by 2007's Superbad, and 2008's Drillbit Taylor and Pineapple Express*.
The plot of the movie is basically, after the initial shock for both Ben and Alison, both parties preparing to be parents. This required a lot more effort from Ben, who was an unemployed overweight stoner-type slacker, living off long-ago lawsuit winnings Bohemian-style and working with other unemployed stoner-slackers trying to create a website that documented where and when exactly nude scenes appeared in movies and what actress it was - all the while not realizing that's been done already. The major marketing point of the film is that this is the about the last guy in America you'd want knocking you up, accidentally or otherwise. And indeed, upon finding out that he'd Spawned, Ben, like almost any guy in that situation, tried to find an out. But then he surprises you. More quickly than you'd expect, he realizes that he has to do the right thing, mostly after having a heart-to-heart with his father, played by our old friend Harold Ramis. Even though he doesn't always do the right things, he tries in earnest. He is a very naughty guy that has a surprising good streak, kind of like Andy from The 40-Year-Old Virgin in reverse.
But it's not like this pregnancy isn't a major inconvenience for Alison, either, as she was a successful producer for the E! Channel who was just been made an on-air personality before she bumped uglies with Ben. As a matter of fact, she was at the night club celebrating that promotion with her older sister Debbie, (who would not have even gotten into the club had she not been with her younger, hotter sister), when she met Ben. And so, for the young and up-and-coming Alison, an unplanned pregnancy - resulting from her drunken one-night stand with Ben - was about the last thing in the world she'd needed at that point in time. She needs to take dozens of pregnancy tests of multiple brands and types - with her sister's help - before she's convinced she's with child. And as you might imagine it becomes increasingly difficult to hide her pregnancy on camera.
Anyway, much hilarity ensues as Ben and Alison are dragged by Fate, kicking and screaming, as it were, down this path of parenthood.
The film features individuals that have already been down the child-rearing path, Alison's aforementioned sister (Leslie Mann) and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd), but they certainly weren't the ideal role models, who were experiencing some typical - and some not-so-typical - marital and child-rearing problems (the kids were played by real-life children of Apatow and Mann). But they were more help than Ben's friends, a motley crew of stoned but endearing losers: Jay (Jay Baruchel); Jonah (Jonah Hill - who is also in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad); Martin (Martin Star) - the guy who cannot shave after losing a bet and is relentlessly teased for looking like a terrorist - which makes for a great running gag; and the weird chick Martin is dating, Jodi (Charlyne Yi). They're not so keen on the idea of Ben taking so much responsibility for the baby and trying to take care of Alison while she's pregnant - at first. And of course they are constant reminders of the slackerdom that Ben will have to eventually abandon.
But it is actually Pete, Debbie's husband, who proves to be the most discouraging, who has become somewhat jaded on the whole concept of marriage and kids and almost seems to be going through a rather early mid-life crisis. At one point Debbie thinks he is cheating on her but she finds out that he's really going off to do fantasy baseball drafts with friends. Pete, tired of near-constant bickering with Debbie, takes off to Las Vegas for a weekend to get away from his family and invites Ben along. This leads to a scene where Ben and Pete do some magic mushrooms and see Cirque du Soleil, which is certainly not the best combination. Some brilliant directing by Apatow made this the funniest scene in the film - and one of the funniest I've seen ever. I literally did not stop laughing throughout the whole scene and I cannot do it justice by trying to describe it, you're just going to have to see it for yourself. Also funny was a scene where Alison and Debbie are trying to get back into that same night club - while Ben and Pete are in Vegas - and they are rejected (one is pregnant, one is too old). Because of this there's a funny exchange between Debbie and the security guard where she berates him for not letting them in for not being skanky enough and she reminds him that he's just a security guard, not god, and the man sadly agrees.
Overall, I enjoyed the film, and it was worth the long quest for me to get it. (The first weekend it was out I spent the better part of a Friday evening trying to get it from any place I could think of that rented DVDs; I even checked every Redbox I could find, to no avail. I finally got a copy the next weekend.) I thought it was hilarious at times, and endearing at times, and all of the acting was top notch. Compared to all other movies I've seen, I give it 3 out of 4 stars; compared to all other comedies I've seen, I give it 3 out of 4 stars as well.
The movie has been criticized for being sexist by female New York Times and Los Angeles Times editors, and even by Katherine Heigl, mainly at how Alison behaves while she's pregnant; her irrationality (seen as a pregnancy stereotype) leads to many conflicts between her and Ben and she pushes him away for a time because of a false disbelief in Ben's commitment. But I will say this: while watching these scenes, I got a sense of deja vu. I'd seen it all before. Folks, it's not a stereotype. She did and said some of the exact same things my wife does when she is pregnant and Ben reacts to it in many of the same ways I did. Those parts of the movie made me uncomfortable. So obviously I thought the movie's portrayal of Alison was very realistic.
Being that Alison works for a real cable network, this provides for some cameos of actors playing themselves. Steve Carell, who was also in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, makes for yet another actor from the previous film reappearing again. He is joined there by the likes of Jessica Alba, Andy Dick, James Franco (who gets puked on by Alison as a result of a morning sickness attack), Eva Mendes, Ryan Seacrest, Dax Shepard, and Jessica Simpson.
Release Date: June 1, 2007
Written and Directed By: Judd Apatow
Produced By: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson, Clayton Townsend, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg
Running Time: 129 minutes
Running Time (Unrated Cut): 133 minutes
Distributed By: Universal Pictures, Apatow Productions
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd
* Trailers for 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall would have you believe that it belongs to this series of films, but its claim that "From the same guys who brought you The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up" is misleading; this movie may have Jonah Hill (a little of him), Paul Rudd, and Bill Hader in the cast, but it does not have the writers and/or directors of the previous films (Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Steve Korell). Apatow does get producer credit, though.
Sources: imdb.com, Wikipedia