Dir. Judd Apatow. 2007. R. 129mins. Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd.
Perhaps the best way to look at Knocked Up is to see it as an older, wiser cousin to The 40-Year-Old Virgin: guy trying to get laid, eternally funny. Guy who gets laid, then has to deal with the consequences, not so much. But the difference in difficulty is more than bridged in the upgrade in quality: The movie is a decisive breakthrough for Apatow, whose comic instincts go hand in hand with an unfashionable empathy. If Ernst Lubitsch knew from nudie sites and obstetrics, this movie could have been made in 1932.
As Alison (Heigl) and Ben (Rogen) navigate the course of their unexpected pregnancy (they surprise themselves by deciding to keep it), Apatow holds aloft a riches of running gags. Alison has higher-ups at E! who advise her to “be healthy, by eating less,” and Ben, working on a long-delayed website called fleshofthestars.com, optimistically identifies as self-employed. Each one has a coterie: for Ben, it’s a sympathetic stoner crew (including one roommate who agrees not to shave for a year), and for Alison—in her own way, in a less-than-tenable living arrangement—it’s the sister (Mann) and brother-in-law (Rudd) with whom she resides. They’ve reacted to their own parenthood alternately with hyperconcern and cynicism, and form a ten-years-later mirror image against which Ben and Alison measure their fears. It’s tough to raise a child, Knocked Up suggests, in a world where children have access to Google. (Opens Fri; Click here for showtimes.)—Ben Kenigsberg