Saturday, July 28, 2007

KNOCKED UP - best comedy of 2007?

I won't say it but it rhymes with shmashmortion. This review is brought to you by guest reviewer Al, who can usually be found here.

This is the kind of movie you'll miss due to it drowning in the inevitable over-hype for other blockbuster films released at the same time (I'm looking at you, Homer,) only for you to watch it on a lazy Saturday afternoon years later after discovering a dvd copy of it by accident somewhere in your house, or actually running out to get one because you're done hearing bloody Al rave endlessly about KNOCKED UP and you want to see for yourself if it's all that good.

As far as comedies go, I usually walk in with relatively low expectations. The usual culprits are uninteresting one-dimensional characters with superficial problems; formulaic, paper-thin stories littered with holes (all overlooked, if only for the sake of a good joke), and aside from the exceptionally hilarious BORAT, I can't think of a comedy I've seen in the past two or three years that's managed to stick in my mind. Things look grim for the comedy genre - the current trend shows a surge of popularity for sick and unfunny parodies (EPIC MOVIE, SCARY MOVIE 1 thr 4), your once-adorable-but-now-deplorable-and-exhaustively-unimaginative-comedy-archetypes: be it another wide-eyed, narcissistic Will Ferrell character or supposedly cute and loveable animated creation carrying with it a script of terminally dull gags (SHREK 3, CHICKEN LITTLE) - all films destined to end up in the massive black hole of forgettable comedies that should've never existed.

Which is why Judd Apatow's new film comes off fresh and genuinely amusing. The characters here are fleshed out and human. The problems they face and situations that occur don't simply function as a disposable platform for the writers to throw in a couple of mild jokes but are actually driving the story forward. The writers are brave enough to introduce and clever enough to delicately manage some pretty mature themes (pregnancy, questions about abortion, marital problems etc.). At the same time, they never abandon the film's persistent spirit of comedy.

More importantly, anyone who's been in a relationship would appreciate and understand how the film deals with both the male & female perspective without seeming biased towards either, and it's interesting to see such things dealt subjectively for once. Likewise, none of the characters are written to be more or less favourable but are three-dimensional. This stands in contrast to how certain comedies tend to label 'good' and 'bad' characters from the get-go. As a result it's not only an immensely enjoyable comedy, but an intelligent story that encourages the audience to think and participate, as opposed to simply turning their brains off the whole time.

Not to say it doesn't stumble a couple of times. For one, all that realism preceding the final 20 minutes is ultimately phased out in favour of a sweet ending that I would personally change. Katherine Heigl has the smile of a goddess but overacts a little and it would've been terrific to give the film a good soundtrack. And I would give Micheal Cera a small cameo at least (as if the fact that half of the now all grown-up cast of Freaks & Geeks is in there isn't cool enough). But those are strictly minor complaints and there were plenty of times I had to catch my breath from laughing so hard. Certainly one of the best comedies I've seen in a long, long, long time.

Jay: I'm going to be there to rear your child.
Jason: You hear that, Ben? Don't let him near the kid, he wants to rear your child!
Ben: Do you want to do it doggie style?
Alison: You're not going to fuck me like a dog.
Ben: It's doggie style. We don't have to go outside or anything.
P.S: Don't try googling 'Knocked Up' without safe search on, unless you have a fetish for pregnant women.

KNOCKED UP is already on release in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Singapore. It opens on August 19th in Russia and on August 17th in Estonia, Norway and Germany and on Augsut 24th in Germany, Mexico and the UK. It opens in September in Denmark, Brazil, Finland, the Netherlands and in Iceland. It opens in October in Hungary, Poland, Belgium, France, Argentina, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and Spain.

P.P.S. Bina007 totally agrees with everything here except that she LOVED the sound-track - chock full of The Fratellis and Mika!

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