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Knocked Up is a 2007 American comedy film, co-produced, written and directed by Judd Apatow. Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, and Leslie Mann, the film follows the repercussions of a drunken one-night stand between Rogen's slacker character and Heigl's just-promoted media personality that results in an unintended pregnancy.

Plot

Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is a lazy, dimwitted and immature 23-year-old Jewish Canadian and claimed illegal immigrant from Vancouvermarker, living off funds received in compensation for an injury and sporadically working on a Mr. Skin-like website with his roommates in between smoking marijuana or goofing off with them. Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is a career-minded woman who has just been given an on-air role with E! Entertainment Television, and is living in the pool house with her sister Debbie's (Leslie Mann) family. While celebrating her promotion, Alison meets Ben at a local night club. After a night of drinking, they end up having sex. Due to a misunderstanding, they do not use protection: Alison uses the phrase "just do it already" to encourage Ben to put the condom on faster, which he misinterprets as "forget the condom". The following morning, they quickly learn over breakfast that they have little in common and go their separate ways which leaves Ben visibly defeated when she walks away.

Eight weeks later, Alison experiences morning sickness at work, and, several home pregnancy tests later, discovers she is pregnant. She contacts Ben for the first time since their one-night stand to tell him the news. Although taken aback, Ben says he will be there to support Alison having the baby. While he is still unsure about being a parent, his father (Harold Ramis) tells him that he was the best thing that ever happened to him. Alison's mother (Joanna Kerns) tries to convince her daughter to have an abortion, but Alison decides to keep the child. Later, Alison and Ben decide to give their relationship a chance. The odd couple's efforts include Ben making an awkward marriage proposal with a ring box without a ring, promising to get her one someday. Alison thinks it is too early to think about marriage, because she is more concerned with hiding the pregnancy from her boss, who asked her when she first got the on-air job to be "firm" and "tight" for the cameras.

After a somewhat promising beginning, tensions surface in the relationship. Alison is increasingly anxious over Ben's lack of responsibility and has doubts about the longevity of their relationship. These thoughts race through her mind due to her sister's unhappy marriage. Debbie's husband Pete (Paul Rudd) works as a talent scout for rock bands, but he leaves at odd hours in the night which makes her suspect he is having an affair. Upon investigating, she learns that he is actually part of a fantasy baseball draft, which he explains that he needs to have some time free from Debbie's controlling manner (she had previously encouraged Alison to berate Ben until he remakes himself in her mold, calling it "training"). Similarly, Ben feels that Alison is overly controlling. As a result of Pete's confession to his wife, they decide to split up because Pete feels he cannot connect with Debbie and vice-versa. Alison is further convinced Ben will not be supportive after seeing he has not read books on child birth he had bought and promised to read earlier. While driving to the doctor's office, they erupt into a furious argument, resulting in Ben getting out of the car and walking the remaining three miles. Upon finally arriving, an argument erupts between the two with Ben blaming Alison's hormones for making her this way, and in response, she tells him that it would be better if they stopped seeing each other.

After the breakup, Ben decides to go with Pete on a road trip to Las Vegasmarker. Under the heavy influence of psychedelic mushrooms, they realize their loss and decide to return and take responsibility. Simultaneously, Debbie drags a depressed Alison out partying with her, eventually attempting to gain admission to the night club at which Alison and Ben met. The club's bouncer won't let them in, since Alison is pregnant and Debbie is old, neither trait desired by the club's management. After a confrontation with the apologetic bouncer, Debbie cries and confesses to Alison that her prospects in life are diminishing while Pete's are growing, and that she wants Pete back. Eventually, Pete and Debbie reconcile at their daughter's birthday party. When Ben tries to work things out with Alison, she is still reluctant to get back together with him, since she feels they are different and have little in common, only influencing Alison's decision is when Pete confesses about he and Ben taking mushrooms in Las Vegas. When he hears of this from Alison, Ben shouts at Pete in anger. At the same time, her boss finds out about her pregnancy, but this has increased ratings among female viewers. After an unsuccessful talk with his father, Ben decides to take responsibility and starts reading the birth books. He goes to great effort to change his ways, including moving out of his friends' house, getting a real job as a web designer and an apartment with a baby's room. Subsequently, Alison goes into labor and is not able to contact her doctor, forcing her to recontact Ben due to Debbie and Pete's out-of-town trip. Ben also tries to contact her gynecologist (Loudon Wainwright III), but finds out through his housekeeper that he is unavailable, as he is at a bar mitzvah in San Franciscomarker – although he had, while being interviewed by the couple, indicated he never took vacations or left town – resulting in Ben leaving him a deeply infuriated, threatening message on his voice mail.

During labor, Alison apologizes for doubting Ben's commitment and admits that she never thought the man who got her pregnant would be the right one for her. A while later, Debbie and Pete arrive, but Ben, still angry over Debbie's influence on Alison, makes them wait outside, as he wishes to take care of Alison alone. When Debbie protests, Ben threatens to have security escort her out of the hospital if she does not comply, which finally convinces Debbie that Ben is the right guy for Alison. The couple welcomes the birth of a baby girl (a boy in the alternate ending) and settle down happily together in a new apartment in LA.

Cast



Production

Casting

Several of the major cast members return from previous Judd Apatow projects. Seth Rogen, Martin Starr, Jason Segel and James Franco all starred in the short-lived, cult television series Freaks and Geeks which Apatow produced. From the Apatow-created Undeclared (which also featured Rogen, Segel and Starr) there is Jay Baruchel and Loudon Wainwright III . Paul Feig, who co-created Freaks and Geeks and starred in the Apatow-written movie Heavyweights, also makes a brief cameo as the Fantasy Baseball Guy. Steve Carell, who makes a cameo appearance as himself, co-starred alongside Rogen and Rudd in Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, as well as appearing in the Apatow-produced Anchorman. Finally, Leslie Mann, who also appeared in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, is married to Apatow and their two daughters play her children in the movie.

Anne Hathaway was originally cast in the role of Alison in the film, but dropped out due to creative reasons that Apatow attributed to her disagreement with plans to use real footage of a woman giving birth. Jennifer Love Hewitt and Kate Bosworth auditioned for the part after Hathaway dropped out but ended up losing to Katherine Heigl.

Reception

Box office performance

The film opened at #2 at the U.S. box office, grossing $30,690,990 in its opening weekend. The film has grossed $148.8 million domestically and $70.1 million in foreign territories, totaling 218.9 million. The film also spent eight weeks in the box office top ten, the longest streak amongst May-June openers in 2007. A company that specializes in tracking responses to advertising spanning multiple types of media attributed the film's unexpected financial success to the use of radio and television ads in combination.

Critical reviews

Overall Knocked Up was very well received by many early critics despite accusations of sexism. For example, the film ended up with a 90% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 225 reviews (203 fresh, 22 rotten).

The Los Angeles Times praised the film's humor despite its plot inconsistencies, noting that, "probably because the central story doesn't quite gel, it's the loony, incidental throwaway moments that really make an impression." Chris Kaltenbach of The Baltimore Sun acknowledged the comic value of the film in spite of its shortcomings, saying, "Yes, the story line meanders and too many scenes drone on; Knocked Up is in serious need of a good editor. But the laughs are plentiful, and it's the rare movie these days where one doesn't feel guilty about finding the whole thing funny."

In another such review, Variety magazine, while calling the film predictable, said that Knocked Up was "explosively funny." On the television show Ebert & Roeper, Richard Roeper and guest critic David Edelstein gave Knocked Up a "two big thumbs up" rating, with Roeper calling it "likeable and real," noting that although "at times things drag a little bit.... still Knocked Up earns its sentimental moments."

A more critical review in Time magazine noted that, although a typical Hollywood-style comedic farce, the unexpected short-term success of the film may be more attributable to a sociological phenomenon rather than the quality or uniqueness of the film per se, positing that the movie's shock value, sexual humor and historically taboo themes may have created a brief nationwide discussion in which movie-goers would see the film "so they can join the debate, if only to say it wasn't that good."

Alleged copyright infringement

Canadian author Rebecca Eckler has written in Maclean's Magazine about the similarities between the movie and her book, Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-Be, which was released in the U.S. in March 2005. She is pursuing legal action against Apatow and Universal Pictures on the basis of copyright infringement.In a public statement, Apatow said, "Anyone who reads the book and sees the movie will instantly know that they are two very different stories about a common experience."

Another Canadian author, Patricia Pearson, has also publicly claimed similarities between the film and her novel, Playing House. She has declined to sue and declares Eckler's lawsuit to be frivolous.

Accusations of sexism

Mike White (long time associate of Judd Apatow and screenwriter for School of Rock, Freaks and Geeks, Orange County, and Nacho Libre) is said to have been "disenchanted" by Apatow's later films, "objecting to the treatment of women and gay men in Apatow's recent movies," saying of Knocked Up, "'At some point it starts feeling like comedy of the bullies, rather than the bullied.'"

In early reviews, both Slate's Dana Stevens and the Los Angeles Times' Carina Chocano wrote articles noting the sexist attitudes propagated by the film, a topic which was the primary focus of a Slate magazine podcast in which New York editor Emily Nussbaum said: "Alison [Heigl's character] made basically zero sense. She was just a completely inconsistent character.... she was this pleasant, blandly hot, peculiarly tolerant, yet oddly blank nice girl. She seemed to have no actual needs or desires of her own...." A. O. Scott of The New York Times explicitly compared Knocked Up to Juno, calling the latter a "feminist, girl-powered rejoinder and complement to Knocked Up."

In a later and highly-publicized Vanity Fair interview, lead actor Katherine Heigl admitted that though she enjoyed working with Apatow and Rogen, she had a hard time enjoying the film itself, calling it "a little sexist" and claiming that the film "paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys." Following Heigl's controversial comments, an online survey of 927 individuals was performed by lifestyle publication Buzzsugar (a media product of Sugar Publishing) in which the majority (59%) of movie-goers agreed that Knocked Up was sexist or could be viewed as sexist (although 38% were not personally offended) while 37% of viewers saw the film as devoid of sexist aspects.

In response producer and director Judd Apatow did not initially deny the validity of such accusations, saying, "I'm just shocked she [Heigl] used the word shrew. I mean, what is this, the sixteen-hundreds?"

Heigl's comments spurred widespread reaction in the media, including a Huffington Post article in which she was labled "an assertive, impatient go-getter who quickly tired of waiting for her boyfriend to propose". Heigl clarified her initial comments to People magazine, stating that, "My motive was to encourage other women like myself to not take that element of the movie too seriously and to remember that it's a broad comedy," adding that, "Although I stand behind my opinion, I'm disheartened that it has become the focus of my experience with the movie."

Meghan O'Rourke of Slate magazine called Heigl's comments unsurprising, noting "Knocked Up was, as David Denby put it in The New Yorker, the culminating artifact in what had become 'the dominant romantic-comedy trend of the past several years—the slovenly hipster and the female straight arrow. The Guardian noted that Heigl's comments "provoked quite a backlash, and Heigl was described as ungrateful and a traitor. Some people even suggested she would never work again," remarks which were in retrospect proved incorrect and may well have propelled Heigl's career.

In the wake of mounting accusations of sexism, director Judd Apatow discussed ways he might develop more authentic female characters. New York magazine quotes Apatow as admitting, "I think the characters are sexist at times, but it's really about immature people who are afraid of women and relationships and learn to grow up." Apatow dismissed Heigl's comments, saying that they were "taken out of context," noting, "It reminds people that they need to buy Knocked Up on DVD and judge for themselves;" a reversal (i.e., turning negative accusations of misogynism into a positive for monetary gain) which the article praised as "reverse-jujitsu marketing acumen." In response to another one of Apatow's remarks regarding sexist accusations (i.e., "If people say that the characters are sexist, I say, yeah, that's what I was going for in the first part of the movie, and then they change."), another article in New York Magazine noted that Apatow was not directly responding to the nature of the accusations, which were not directed at his characters but rather the movie itself, saying, "the characters aren't all that sexist, but the movie kind of is," adding that, "The problems with Knocked Up have been pointed out by many writers...."

Top ten lists

The film made the top ten list of the jury for the 2007 AFI Awards as well as the top ten lists of several well-known critics, with the AFI jury calling it the "funniest, freshest comedy of this generation." and a film that "stretches the boundaries of romantic comedies." John Newman, respected film critic for the Boston Bubble called the film "a better, raunchy, modern version of Some Like it Hot."

Early on the film was deemed the best reviewed wide release of 2007 by the Rotten Tomatoes' website.

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.

Awards

On December 16, 2007, the film was chosen by the American Film Institute as one of the ten best movies of the year. It was one of the two pregnancy comedies on the list (Juno being the other). E! News praised the film's generally unacknowledged success, saying that, "The unplanned pregnancy comedy, shut out of the Golden Globes and passed over by the L.A. and New York critics, was one of 10 films selected Sunday for the American Film Institute's year-end honors."

The 2007 Teen Choice Awards awarded the film "Choice : Comedy". They also gave Ryan Seacrest "Best Hissy Fit", for his brief cameo, where he becomes self-obsessed and complains about rising young talents, saying that they 'fuck his day up.'

Judd Apatow was nominated for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay.

In 2008 the film was nominated for a Canadian Comedy Award for Best Actor, for Seth Rogen. Coincidentally Rogen lost to Michael Cera for his role in Superbad, which Rogen had written.

Music

Strange Weirdos: Music From And Inspired By The Film Knocked Up, an original soundtrack album, was composed for the film by folk singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III and Joe Henry. However, the movie's lead song Daughter was written by Peter Blegvad an American singer-songwriter.

In addition to Wainwright's tracks, there were approximately 40 songs featured in the motion picture that were not included on the official soundtrack on Concord Records.

DVD release

Several separate Region 1 DVD versions were released on September 25, 2007. There was the theatrical R-Rated version, an "Unrated and Unprotected" version (fullscreen and widescreen available independently), a two-disc "Extended & Unrated" collector's edition, and an HD DVD "Unrated and Unprotected" version. On November 7, 2008, Knocked Up was released on Blu-ray following the discontinuation of HD DVD, along with other Apatow comedies The 40-Year-Old Virgin & Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

See also



References

External links




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