Saccharine-sweet romantic comedies with cookie-cutter plots seem to have plagued America’s movie theaters in recent years. The formula is simple: an unlikely couple meets (one half of this unlikely couple is probably involved in a rocky relationship of some sorts with somebody else), they become involved with one another and then they break up, only to realize that they are meant to be. They reunite and live happily ever after. Throw in some clich√© one-liners and this is what America is given as a form of entertainment.
For sure, not all Americans think like 14-year-old mallrats and enjoy spending their $10 on yet another Drew Barrymore chick flick. Maybe this was what director Judd Apatow was thinking when he directed the movie that broke the mold of today’s romantic comedies. When The 40-Year-Old-Virgin hit theaters in 2005, viewers were treated to a romantic comedy that everybody could enjoy; wives and girlfriends did not have to drag their husbands and boyfriends to the movies and adults everywhere no longer had to feel guilty that they were wasting two hours of their time on a movie where problems seemed less intense than those on an episode of The Brady Bunch.
Following in the footsteps of The 40-Year-Old Virgin (and perhaps casting a shadow over it) is Apatow’s latest masterpiece, Knocked Up. The characters are somewhat similar to those in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, from slacker and average-guy Ben Stone and his marijuana-induced, sex-obsessed roommates to nerdy and average Andy Stitzer and his sex-obsessed co-workers. However, Knocked Up’s characters still carry a distinct charm from The 40 Year Old Virgin’s, so viewers never feel as if they are seeing the same movie, but rehashed.
The story follows the unexpected pregnancy of Alison (Katherine Heigl) and Ben (Seth Rogen) as well as the relationship they try to build for themselves and their soon-to-be child. The couple meets at a club where Alison is celebrating a promotion to become an E! on-air correspondent, and Ben and his roommates are simply on a mission to get laid. Drunk, the two stumble back to Alison’s place, the pool house of her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd). When Ben takes Alison’s statement of “Just do it already!” literally as he attempts to put on a condom with much trouble, the movie is launched into the hilarity of what happens when a beautiful, career-driven woman becomes involved in an unlikely relationship with a slacker whose “job” is running a nude celebrity website with his four stoner roommates.
Mann and Rudd’s characters are not just supporting actors for Heigl and Rogen; rather their marriage serves as an advanced version of that of Ben’s and Alison’s. The four of them work well together, creating yuks that are neither clich√© nor cutesy; as a matter of fact, the movie is not cutesy at all, even during the “aww” moments.
The greatest thing about the movie is the fact that seeing it more than once is an option. While seeing most movies these days is one time too many, viewers can expect to laugh at this movie even harder the second time around. While the movie is somewhat “yeah right, that would never happen,” it is also realistic and relatable. Knocked Up is one of the best romantic comedies to come along in a long while, and will make you wonder how you ever stomached one before.