Knocked Up (2006, Judd Apatow)

screened Wednesday June 6 2007 at Loews 34th St., New York NY IMDb I've seen all of 10 new films this year, waaaay below average for the past several years.  But I've enjoyed most of what little I've seen, and Knocked Up is among the very best, if not the best film I've seen so far.  It's a surprisingly potent and profound mix of raunchy humor and genuine 20-something angst at being faced with life's parade of disappointments, some brought on by ourselves, others seeming to come from nowhere to set upon us like the plague.  It's one of those rare comedies whose biggest laughs seem to be salvaged from the depths of an existential despair that no amount of witty one-liners can quite conceal. Much of this was present in Apatow's previous The 40 Year-Old Virgin, but this new film achieves a greater range of hilarity and pain, often intertwined with each other.

Apatow has directed and produced some of the best comedies of the decade (in addition to directing Virgin and Knocked Up, he's produced Anchorman and Talladega Nights).  Traits consistent to all of them include an improvisational quality to the dialogue (the essentialness of improvising becomes apparent when you see the DVD outtakes for these films), liberal pop-culture references that may threaten to date the films but for now give it a contemporary crispness, and a humble, self-deprecating quality to the zingiest one-liners that hint at reserves of inner pain to ensure that these characters are more than caricatures of familiar types.  Having an astounding cast (many from previous Apatow productions) helps too - and the ensemble of Katharine Heigl, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd achieve a sit-com-like camaraderie in only a handful of scenes.  This is Hollywood at its best.

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