I love Seth Rogen, I’ve loved Seth Rogen since the days of “Freaks and Geeks” when he was the often difficult supporting character Ken, who popped wisecracks, I loved Seth Rogen when he was in “Undeclared” as almost the same character, and now he’s finally leading a film that’s a much deserved turn the man. “Freaks and Geeks” fans know the man can headline a movie and Apatow proves that. As the character Ben, he’s probably one of the many complex characters that Apatow has such a talent for concocting.
He’s void of cliché, void of predictability, and is this harmless frat guy who accepts growing up once his one night stand turns into potential fatherhood, and Rogen is at his top. Apatow is that director who can bring the best out of his cast, and much like “40 Year Old Virgin,” Rogen gives a wonderful performance who still manages to win our affections in the end, in spite of his penchant for being crude. Rogen is very much unlike the men we’d see in a romance comedy in modern film. In the days of the John Cusacks, and Hugh Jackmans, Rogen is the every man who is facing realistic situations in his life. He’s a bit pudgy, gruff, rough around the edges, and yet becomes a man when he comes to terms that it’s time to be rid of childish things and take care of a child that will need him.
Suffice it to say the highlight of this film is Rogen who proves he’s an actor, here once and for all. Much like Apatow’s past work, “Knocked Up” is a film for everyone, but mostly this is a romance comedy for men dealing with impending child birth. This is a movie about men facing life changing situations, for men with children, and explores the topics that men go over with themselves. Having a child is a humongous journey, and Rogen perfectly explores that in what is one of the funniest and touching adult comedies ever made. As Ben he’s a man perpetually coasting through life and now has to stop and think about what’s important, and Apatow expresses that with the same complex charm that he did with Andy in “40 Year Old Virgin.” While it may be compared to “Nine Months” in some regards, what Apatow pushes for is the R rated frat comedy that also grows up as the story progresses.
This is a different comedy than the former Apatow blockbuster as it reaches genuine characterization that’s layered in hilarious one-liners and drug humor. Ben is a man who meets Alison at a club one night as she celebrates a new promotion. As drinks fly, the two have a one night stand that soon results in an unexpected pregnancy, and now Ben must choose between fight or flight, and when he chooses fight, he has to deal with this decision. He’s willing to change, he wants to change, and he must adapt to Alison as a person as his child soon arrives. Apatow stuffs the screen with his usual round table of utterly talented actors from the always great Paul Rudd who is a bittersweet portrait of a man in a dead end relationship, to James Franco who guest stars as himself, as well as Jason Segal, Martin Starr, and the scene stealing Jonah Hill, commanding great performances from all.
They’re at once clichés who are also a genuine base of support for Ben as he grows up, with Katharine Heigl also giving a great performance as this woman who has a conflicted view of what child rearing may entail as she confides in her shrewish older sister Debbie, played by the always likable Leslie Mann. Not to be excluded are hilarious performances from folks like Alan Tudyk, Bill Hader, and Kristen Wiig. As “Knocked Up” starts as a buddy comedy and then dissolves into a relationship dramedy, the pacing is never lost, and Apatow keeps the characters consistently funny always avoiding the Gary Marshall pitfalls that make these sorts of films so unbearable.
“Knocked Up” is so funny and versatile as it reaches deep down into the fears of the male counterpart of the parenting unit, and I doubt even the guys will find it hard not to cry by the last half. I did. And I’m not afraid to admit it. When you visit the DVD, be sure to watch the mockumentary “Finding Ben Stone,” it’s a surefire laugh riot. “Knocked Up” hardly failed to meet my expectations. It’s a hysterical, well acted, and wonderful glimpse at impending parenthood from a man’s perspective, and it’s a romance comedy. How about that?