Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Movie Log: Knocked Up

I missed Knocked Up in the theater -- no, let me be honest: it's not the kind of movie The Wife and I would ever consider spending serious money on and organizing baby-sitting for -- but it came out on video really quickly, so we saw it last week.

I don't need to describe the plot to anyone in North America who owned a TV set this summer -- Seth Rogen is a young slacker (living with four friends in a house I seriously doubt any of them can afford, as they try to launch a website with a great idea for 1997) and Katherine Heigl is an up-and-coming celebrity journalist on E! They meet at a bar, have drunken sex, and expect to never see each other again. But Heigl's character is pregnant, and, in mass American entertainment, that means she's inevitably going to have the baby.

Knocked Up is pleasant but not great; Rogen has way too much anger and Heigl's opinion of him depends entirely on the needs of the plot a the moment. It has moments of honesty buried in reels of generic comedy-movie dreck, and this "unrated" version runs on too long. Maybe the theatrical version was less flabby, but the movie I saw just had too much of everything. (Except maybe nudity -- I expect more nakedness from an R-rated movie than I got here.)

The plot lurches from utter lowest-common-denominator obvious to occasionally surprising, but then settles back into LCD most of the time. The hero doesn't miraculously become rich from his stupid Internet idea -- as he would in the Hollywood Platonic Ideal of this movie -- which is nice, but a lot of other plot points (the fake crisis, the real crisis) are boringly straight out of screenwriting manuals.

It would have been more fun if Rogen's character was actually the completely unsocialized, rage-a-holic loser he occasionally appears to be -- then either Heigl's character or he himself would have had to reform him. As it is, he vaguely cleans himself up and becomes acceptable, simply because modern standards for husbands have fallen to a new low.

There are three or four ways that Knocked Up could have been an immensely better movie; that's only one of them. But it resolutely avoids all of them, sticking to the tried-and-true Hollywood plot through all. Rent it, but don't buy it.

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