Some of you may question Knocked Up‘s place in this category, citing it as one of the better comedies of the past ten years. Others may turn away quickly, put off by Seth Rogen and his chuckle or by Katherine Heigl’s general mediocrity. I offer it up as a source of entertainment that seems to always be on. For this film, unlike most of our Lost Hours flicks, I know exactly how and where I’ve lost most of my hours. On the couch, waiting for dinner or a later movie to start, on the E! network. E! of the many commercials and redundant programming. I consider myself a fan of Rogen in moderation and of this movie without question, but no matter how you classify it in your mind, it lends itself to this categorization — filled with memorable lines, scenes, and instances of bad parenting.
The movie turned seven on June 1st, so I apologize for missing the big day. To be fair, though, Rogen’s Ben Stone would have missed it too, stoned beyond the capacity to remember important dates in all likelihood. It’s interesting to look back at Rogen as Ben. It was his first big movie role following smaller parts in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Anchorman, and his career took off in the years following this hit. In the past couple years, he has seemed to grow up at least a little bit, his maturation evident as a bumbling parent in Neighbors, a man longing for his youth but not mired in it like Ben. This isn’t a slight against 2007 Rogen by any means, as his chubbier, cruder being augmented the irony of Ben and Alison (Heigl) flailing around together.
Heigl has become a fairly polarizing presence in Hollywood. You either love Grey’s Anatomy or hate it, and you either love 27 Dresses or GET OUT OF MY LIFE. She hadn’t done much before Knocked Up, and she hasn’t done much of note since, but for me at least she was most tolerable when mismatched with Ben Stone as Alison Scott. Two people, two boring names, going about their daily lives simply trying to spice it up a little at the club one night. BAM. Pregnant. No, not with love. Heigl makes her living off of playing uptight, irritating people, but Alison was most successful out of all her characters due to the craziness of the people around her. Ben and his slow-moving gang spew out semi-scripted nonsense like nobody’s business, and they even keep a business like nobody’s business, Flesh of the Stars.
Besides Rogen and Jonah Hill and the crew, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann steal the show, providing Ben and Alison with a glimpse into the marital bliss awaiting them if they proceed together. Their children, played by the Apatow girls, blend in well with the ridiculousness around them, almost like their fictional mother is their real mother or something. When it comes down to it, I still wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan of the plot as a whole, yet individual scenes keep pulling me back to the movie. Ben and Pete in Vegas gets me every single time, and Rudd’s general ability to convey marital disillusionment with an air of the absurd remains fantastic. Each pair of actors works well together and stands out in terms of believability. Rogen in 2007 exuded immaturity, and Heigl was a pretty lady but not pretty enough to overcome the chaos enveloping her life. Rudd has and always will be the snarky everyman with a boyish face to hide the misery, and Mann’s voice is simply perfect as it gets higher and higher as tensions rise within her fictional dysfunctional marriage. If I had to watch any one of these characters for a whole movie, I’d probably get irritated, seeing as even they get irritated with themselves and their partners rather quickly. By spreading the time between the four main adults, Judd Apatow crafted an extremely rewatchable movie.
Concisely, the movie works well and endures because of its realness. Apatow and his writers created main characters that are vulgar and angry and scared about the future. Even when celebrities do enter the story, they do so as a source of comic relief. We’re looking at you, Ryan Seacrest. Watching it recently, I think I appreciate the movie more than ever. Rogen’s characters in Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Neighbors, and some other films in between have a very real sense of continuity, and looking back at him as a sophomoric impregnator is comforting as we see one of our movie world’s best manboys becoming more of a man. Neighbors itself ushers in Zac Efron and Dave Franco and others as new stars of comedy. As people like Rogen and Jonah Hill grow up (sort of), a new gang of misfits will have to take over. But not on E!, not quite yet.