If Andy Stitzer, Steve Carell’s sweet and naive character in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” had seen “Knocked Up” before meeting his true love (Catherine Keener), we’d probably be referring to him as “The 42-Year-Old Virgin” today.
A funnier, more intelligent and better-written version of those hygiene films that high school teachers show to teenagers, “Knocked Up” tells a hilarious cautionary tale about one night stands that, on many levels, is so sweet and romantic that it’s hard to resist.
Katherine Heigl from the hit series “Grey’s Anatomy” plays Alison Scott, a floor producer for the “E!” television network. Alison’s hard work and good looks do not go unnoticed by her superiors, who promote her to an on-camera position. Her career now is on the fast track and she goes out with her married sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) to celebrate her success.
While standing at the bar at one club, Alison meets Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), a chubby, red-headed slacker who spends his free time developing a pornographic website with his other slacker friends. Thanks to a combination of alcohol and adrenaline, Alison and Ben actually hit it off and end up in bed later that night at her place. After she sobers up, Ben doesn’t look so appealing to Alison and it’s clear that she probably intends to never see him again.
Eight weeks later, Alison isn’t feeling well and all the symptoms point to pregnancy. After several home tests confirm her suspicions, she gets back in touch with Ben, who thinks that she merely wants a repeat performance of their one night together. He’s suitably freaked out, though, after hearing the news, but he discovers that he really likes Alison and wants to be a part of her life and the pregnancy. Alison also finds out that she has a soft spot for Ben in her heart as well.
For the most part, “Knocked Up” follows Alison and Ben over what can only be called a 7-month courtship. As her belly grows larger, their relationship changes and hits some expected and unexpected rough spots. Alison realizes that she can’t hide her condition from her demanding bosses for much longer while Ben, who never held a steady job before, becomes responsible for the first time in his life.
Director Judd Apatow, who was one of the creative minds behind “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” creates a wonderful companion piece to that earlier movie. With tongue firmly in cheek, Apatow shows how pregnancy truly changes a couple’s relationship, especially in some heartbreaking and painful scenes involving Alison’s sister Debbie and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd).
Apatow also includes a graphic and extremely messy birth scene that is guaranteed to make all the single men in the audience squirm in their seats.
Despite its B-movie title, this is a first class effort all the way and another triumph for director Apatow.
“Knocked Up,” rated R for sexual content, drug use and language, is due in theaters on Friday, June 1.