Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Knocked Up (15)

A surprise hit in the us, this comedy about pre-natal jitters will grow on you, says Noel McAdam

Knocked Up now showing at cinemas across Northern Ireland

Baby romp better than expectant



(15, 125 mins) Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd



Life, as John Lennon sang, is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

And so it proves for TV backroom woman Alison (newcomer Katherine Heigl, best known until now for Grey's Anatomy off the telly) whose life suddenly hits the pause button.

On the threshold of an on-screen career, a one-night stand with an - it has to be said - unlikely lover knocks her plans for six.

The aforementioned Mr Lennon is among the many cultural references in this smart and sassy slice-of-life movie, which comes here almost a year after it was made.

It also has the reputation of being a surprise hit Stateside with advance word that its success is based on actual humour rather than hype.

Unusually long for a comedy, it works largely due to the nicely-judged performance of Seth Rogen as father-to-be Ben, in his first leading-man role after appearances in Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and You, Me and Dupree.

But the key is whether you can suspend your disbelief high enough to buy that go-ahead Alison would accept the consequences of a drunken mistake, as well as the relationship with the rather rough Ben and life-long commitment that goes with it.

Forget comedy: this is condomy. In the abandonment of drink, at the peak of excitement, a simple piece of mis-interpretation makes the difference between safe sex and parenthood.

But Knocked Up, as the very title itself suggests, also inhabits an extremely male universe. This is writer/director Judd Apatow's personal fantasy: it may bear little relation to real life.

Apatow wrote 40-Year-Old Virgin, Fun With Dick and Jane as well as several Larry Sanders Show episodes and co-directed Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

In this world guys don't cheat but, without telling their wives, have to sneak off to play fantasy baseball. When they have a problem they inevitably Google it, of course.

This is also a film very well aware of its demographics. The key cinema audience is, and has been for some considerable time, those between the ages of 16 and 24: in other words, the very people for whom the situation means most.

The script isn't exactly pregnant with ideas but, like a lady-with-a-baby's-tummy, it packs a lot in.

The characters are well-drawn, including Leslie Mann as Alison's married sister Debbie and there is some good ensemble playing from Ben's best mates obsessed with (a) being Jewish and (b) developing their porn website.

The laughs come in the interplay rather than, for the most part, the one-liners.

When Ben's dad tells him: "I love you. You're the best thing that ever happened to me," Ben says: "Now I'm starting to feel a little sorry for YOU."

This isn't the gross-out comedy of the Farrely brothers (There's Something About Mary, Shallow Hal, Stuck on You) but it is, for the most part, crude. So many lines seemed designed to shock rather than to make you smile.

Now showing at cinemas across Northern Ireland



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