Affection fairly flows from the audience to the screen.

Knocked Up

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            Is there a pleasure more delicious than being part of a movie audience that is laughing out loud and often? This is what happens in the new movie surprise “Knocked Up.” All ages they were, and having a wonderful time. So go.

            If I tell you there is a group of slackers whose only source of future income lies in an as yet unrealized internet site called <“fleshofthestars.com> and who at the moment spends its time in shared squalor, drinking and talking in the imagery and language of their pornographic passion, you might stay home. Or if I mention the prolonged childbirth scene or the graphic sex, that too might be a negative. So why might you love this movie? Because everything about it is good.

            The premise: Alison (Katherine Heigl) earns a promotion from off camera facilitator for television station “E!” to on camera interviewer. She celebrates that night in a bar with her sister Debbie (a terrific Leslie Mann) who leaves early to go home to husband Pete (Paul Rudd) and the kids. Staying on alone to savor her triumph, Alison meets Ben (Seth Rogen), drinks far too much and invites him back to her bed in her sister’s house. In a moment of miscommunication, they indulge in unprotected sex that results in a badly timed pregnancy.

            Speaking about Katherine Heigl in an interview with Entertainment Weekly writer/director Judd Apatow said, “It’s fun to see people really take to her….people have such an affection for her that it became this movie about Seth Rogen trying to earn Katherine Heigl.” That’s it, right there, and it happens quickly. Heigl’s Alison comes across as honest, ambitious, and intelligent. Seth Rogen’s Ben is one of the sluggards. Rogen handles Ben’s transformation without sentimentality which leaves us free to love the process.

            The movie wins the evening with terrific comic acting, great timing, and a bristling script under Apatow’s crisp direction. Affection fairly flows from the audience to the screen – especially for Heigl, but also for Rogen and for the support system that envelops them. Credit Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd as Alison’s sharp tongued sister and brother-in-law; and you may even crack a smile at the slackers you once wanted to sweep off the screen with your feather duster.

            You may be surprised to find yourself not only welcoming but relishing the verbal outbursts that amount to total immersion in linguistic porn. This stuff is the daily diet of the slackers but it surprises Alison who finally outdoes them all with an unexpected barrage of wonderful vulgarity – the last thing we would have expected from her. Each cast member gets a turn to put a personal stamp on the material that seems in some odd way to have been born in innocence. In fact the delivery is so funny and appropriate it comes off, as someone said, like comic improv. In our serious and humorless world, here’s an evening of authentic laughter.

 


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