KNOCKED UP

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Overall Impression — Crass, rude, and I loved it.

THE FOUR QUESTIONS

Who’s the main character? — Seth Rogen’s slacker-stoner, Ben.

What’s he trying to accomplish? Ben’s trying to figure out how to be a good boyfriend and potential father.

Who’s trying to stop him? —  To an extent, his slacker buddies as well as the girl he…uh…knocked up, Alison (Katherine Heigl) as well as her sister and brother-in-law.

What happens if he fails? —  He loses the one girl he’s ever met who could possibly love him.

THE FOUR ARCHETYPES

Orphan — Ben is a happy, broke, stoned slacker who is forced to leave his “community” when he sleeps up and gets Alison pregnant.

Wanderer — Ben tries to figure out how not to be so rude and objectionable, how to fit in with Alison’s family (particularly her sister) and how to be a good match for Alison whom  he love and who is beginning to love him.  The problem is that he’s not really committed to doing the right thing, but to making it look like he’s doing the right thing.

Warrior —  After Alison rejects a marriage proposal, Ben starts fighting harder to be the right person for her.  Unfortunately this only involves trying to fit her into his slacker life.  He also starts getting more antagonist as his efforts fail. 

Martyr — Finally, Ben realizes that real changes have to be made.  He moves out of the apartment he shares with his friends, gives up the empty dream of launching his snarky website, gets a job, and by doing so, finally becomes the person Alison and their baby needs.

AND, IN THE END… 

Such a great, simple story.  Of course, what puts this over the top is the outrageous humour which, while crude in many places, is so grounded in reality and uniquely funny that it’s hard not to be impressed. 

I’m often telling writers that they have to “bring something to the party.”  What I mean is that if they write a scene that ANYONE could have written, then who needs them?  There are so many moments in KNOCKED UP where Judd Apatow and/or his crazy-talented cast bring something to the party that I can’t help but smile with admiration while also marveling at the minds that came up with the word “smish-smortion.”

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4 Responses to “KNOCKED UP”

  1. Graham November 29, 2007 at 12:21 am #

    I disagree that he stands to “lose the one girl he’s ever met who could possibly love him”. What makes it impossible for someone else to fall in love with him?

  2. Jeffrey Alan Schechter November 29, 2007 at 12:33 am #

    Romantic comedies and love stories, in order to work, have to operate on the level that there’s only one person our main character can ever love. SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, FORREST GUMP, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY…these are all examples.

    In a love story, the moment the main character’s friend can put an arm around his or her shoulder and tell him or her “Don’t worry, there are other fish in the ocean” and the audience believes that the friend is right…well…there go the stakes and the film is dead in the water.

    I’m sure there are other girls out there who could love Ben (his slacker buddies found girls, right?) but there’s no one…NO ONE!!!…like Alison.

  3. Graham November 29, 2007 at 1:18 pm #

    I agree that he stands to lose a dynamite woman, and probably the love of his life, but it seems to me that ‘Knocked Up’ is superior to most romantic comedies because it does not frame that central question in a sentimental way.

    Ben realises that if he fails here he will fail in a very fundamental way. He will fail as a boyfriend, fail as a father, fail as a man. He’s not just losing a hot chick, he’s losing EVERYTHING.

    I just think the writers deserve credit for aiming higher than, say, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’, which has that ‘only one person’ thing going for it and not much else. ‘Knocked Up’ is more realistic and therefore a million times more meaningful than the vast majority of romantic comedies.

  4. Jeffrey Alan Schechter November 29, 2007 at 2:04 pm #

    Good points and observations. I don’t disagree with you about what Ben stands to lose by losing Alison, but she’s the lynch pin. I maintain that as a storyteller, you don’t want the audience to draw an emotional equivalence between the stakes and the “not the stakes.” Yes, if he loses Alison he fails in a number of fundamental ways but we still don’t want someone to go up to him and say “Dude, you’ll meet someone else.”

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