Knocked Up

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Knocked Up
Review (7.5/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

When I was in school, I had a friend who would regale us with tales of his amusing party escapades. Among my favourites were the stories of his experiences with what he called "coyote arm". It was a term that he used to describe those situations when he awoke after a night of overimbibing to find himself next to someone who was, shall we say, not his type. On those occasions, he would tell us, much like a coyote that would gnaw off its leg to escape from a trap, he seriously contemplated gnawing off his arm rather than moving it and waking the sleeping "beauty" next to him.

Contrary to popular belief women, too, find themselves occasionally afflicted with coyote arm. But, as Judd Apatow's new film, "Knocked Up", cautions us, women do not always have the luxury of being able to simply gnaw off their arm and move on.

Knocked Up tells the story of Alison (Katherine Heigl), an attractive up and coming entertainment channel correspondent, who decides to celebrate a promotion at work by going out to a nightclub for an evening of booze-soaked fun. There she meets Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), an unattractive, unemployed layabout pothead. One thing leads to another, and eight weeks later Alison finds herself carrying a permanent reminder of her one-night lapse in judgment. The situation leads her and Ben to embark upon a journey to determine whether they can establish a successful relationship in the face of some extraordinary obstacles.

Knocked Up is the latest film by Judd Apatow, the writer and director of the surprise 2005 hit, The Forty Year Old Virgin. Apatow's comedies are garnering him praise as one of the most gifted writer/directors in Hollywood. Knocked Up is a worthy addition to his growing film resume.

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this film. I went into it with low expectations - from the commercials, I expected a juvenile film that would appeal only to immature males. I was half-right. This film will appeal to immature males but, oddly enough, I discovered that there is something in it for the rest of us as well.

Knocked Up is a film that succeeds because of its well-written script and its oddly symbiotic cast. This could have been a silly, inconsequential film, but through some excellent screenwriting it manages to elevate itself to the level of an interesting, watchable film. It is a brutally honest story about men and women attempting to navigate the ever-changing landscape of their relationships. Apatow provides his actors with dialogue which manages to be both witty and realistic. The film is not as hilarious as the studio's marketing department would have us believe, and there were a couple of scenes that were so crass that they made me cringe, but as the end credits rolled, I have to admit that I felt that I had watched a fine piece of work.

Apatow manages to breathe life into his dialogue with the assistance of a cast of actors that he has assembled from his past television and film projects. In addition to Heigl and Rogen, Apatow rounds out his principal characters with the assistance of his wife, Leslie Mann, and the very amusing Paul Rudd. I had some difficulty watching Rogen, who was perhaps a bit too convincing in his portrayal of the boorish Ben Stone. I suspect that my revulsion was an emotion that was intended by Rogen and Apatow, so I will hopefully be able to forgive them once I can put some distance between myself and the sight of Rogen's bare backside.

The supporting cast is rounded out with great performances by Jason Segel ("How I Met Your Mother"), Jay Baruchel ("Million Dollar Baby"), Jonah Hill ("The Forty Year Old Virgin) and Martin Starr ("Freaks and Geeks"). I particularly enjoyed Segel - if he chooses his projects well, he could graduate from television to have a successful career as a comedic film actor.

Knocked Up is not a film that will appeal to everyone. The language is coarse and there is a significant amount of drug use. Some of the humour is quite crude. Rogen's sex scenes with Katherine Heigl could be shown to high school students to promote abstinence. If you are easily offended, this is probably not the film for you.

Notwithstanding the cornea-searing scenes with Seth Rogen, I was pleasantly surprised by Knocked Up. It surpassed my expectations with its well-written script and decent acting. I went into the theatre expecting to experience coyote arm, but managed to leave with all of my limbs intact.

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