For all the pot fuelled humour and sending up of celebrities there is a very uneasy reality running through the story of ‘Knocked Up’. This is best represented by the relationship of the sister and brother in law of the leading lady (Katherine Heigl), as played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Mirroring the premise the central duo are faced with here, they married on foot of an unplanned pregnancy and both Heigl and Seth Rogen look upon their situation as a worrying prediction of how their lives could turn out if they follow a similar route. Mann, has been locked into a mould unable to see beyond her function as a mother and Rudd, feels empty and unfulfilled, with underlying contempt that the person he shares his life with understands him so little.
Neither of the central pair are at a point where they can comprehend how to deal with the huge changes stemming from such a brief encounter. Turning to parents and friends alike, the best consolation they can find is over a phone call admitting they are both as lost as each other and will need support. How they grow into these supportive roles forms the remainder of the story. The truest kind of comedy in my view is the humour that we use to cushion the sharp edges life presents. Rudd as the embittered husband is the perfect example of this – a caring and attentive father, his exchanges are nevertheless dripping in sarcasm, channelling his frustration through throw away remarks. He wants to enjoy the simplicity of blowing bubbles as much as his daughters but life doesn’t seem to allow him. In the pub set post mortem of the movie, I told my company how this was the type of movie I struggle to write about. I want to say something new in every review, stretch how I think about the movie and feel confident that I am offering some genuine insight. Part of the reason for this reviewers block is I felt I should be reviewing a comedy, so that my review should be littered with praise or condemnation for the jokes and their delivery. Instead I find myself analysing the characters, drawn into a movie where the docile pot head is opening up to his newly pregnant ‘girlfriend’ that he is normally the type to be screwed over, setting him out as equally vulnerable player in their set up.
Now before I go too far down the road of turning this into a remake of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’, let me clear there is comedy here, running facial hair joke gags, the referred to digs at celebrity, dry, insult laden comments from TV producers, apt observations and who knew - ‘Munich’ gets a pop culture reference, as well the classic pool set encounter of Neve Campbell and Denise Richards in ‘Wild Things’. There is smart writing and if we believe the makers, excellent improvisational skills at play here. The movie does loose direction for a time, suffering whenever the future parents are apart, making the movie feel over long and while there is a great mix of comedy value and real world relationship ‘stuff’ the whole package didn’t gel seamlessly for me. The conclusion, though always inevitable, seems tagged on – it never gathers steam and fails to offer the convincing resolution we want to see these decent people enjoy. Ultimately, this movie is absolutely worth your viewing consideration, but the final product is shy of the effortless comedy I wanted it to be.