Judd Apatow’s second directorial feature, Knocked Up, starring Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, marks its 15th anniversary.
The 15th anniversary of the film’s release also means that it’s been 15 years since the year of Judd Apatow. Knocked Up preceded the release of both Superbad and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. The latter didn’t do well at the box office but it has since become a cult classic. I’ll have anniversary reviews of both films later on in the year. Today, I’ll be discussing my thoughts on this film and whether or not it has aged well.
The gist of the film is that slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) meets E! on-air reporter Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) at a club when she’s out celebrating a new promotion. Unbeknownst to Alison, the two end up having unprotected sex after a night of drinking and celebrating. Unfortunately for her, she doesn’t realize it until throwing up eight weeks later during an interview. She gets in touch with Ben for the first time in several weeks and takes every pregnancy test possible for confirmation. Ben says he’ll be supportive of her. We soon get into how their parent’s feel about what’s transpiring. Ben’s dad (Harold Ramis) is thrilled while Alison’s mom (Joanna Kerns) wants her to have an abortion. Ultimately, Alison decides to keep the child and grow closer with Ben…until the film falls into rom-com territory and they suddenly break up.
Eventually, they get back together but that’s not until after Ben finally gets his act together and reads the books. He’s had a bit too much fun with his stoner roommates, Jay, Jonah, Jason, and Martin. Hell, he even has a night out on the town with Alison’s brother-in-law, Pete (Paul Rudd). While Ben and Alison get most of the focus, Apatow wisely follows Pete and Debbie’s (Leslie Mann) relationship, too. They’re having issues at the moment. This is because Pete is spending too much time with his fantasy baseball league, seeing movies by himself, and doing drugs with Ben during a night in Las Vegas. It’s the night in Vegas where both ultimately realize just how much they screwed up. Pete and Debbie reconcile quickly but it’s an uphill climb for Ben and Alison.
If I had reviewed this film in 2007, I would have probably given it all 5 stars. After all, it was one of my favorite films that year. Instead, I’m giving it a 4/5 and I’m still second-guessing myself in this regard. One of the reasons is because of the sexist aspects of the film. Two is because of cameos that don’t age well (James Franco and Andy Dick, in particular). I might not have realized this when I was laughing up a storm during 2007 and subsequent rewatches. But rewatching in 2022, one realizes that this film is very much a time capsule of its own era. I know that there was a feud between Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl as a result of her Vanity Fair comments. However, they both put everything behind them as of interviews in 2016.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss a reason why Knocked Up remains an important film to me 15 years after its release. You see, it plays a major role in giving me the kick in the ass that I needed. While Jurassic Park and Star Wars put me towards a path in filmmaking, college did all sorts of numbers for me. All through college, it was between going into comedy or politics. I needed June 2007 in order to do some major soul-searching. First, I saw this film in theaters. A few days afterwards, I was off on a birthright Israel trip where I did even more praying at the Kotel. Upon coming back, I got the idea for a feature-length screenplay and it’s very much inspired by the Judd Apatow brand of comedy. It probably will not ever get made but it does not happen without the film.
If Knocked Up doesn’t impact my life, I never move to Chicago. Not moving to Chicago means not meeting a number of comedy friends that I still stay in touch with today–not as much as a few years back but I try my best. But more importantly, I would never go on this weird path that led to my becoming a film critic. This is one of the reasons why Knocked Up will always hold a special place in my heart even if it doesn’t quite age all that well. Don’t get me started on The 40-Year-Old Virgin because I couldn’t find it in myself to watch and review for the 15th anniversary! If I feel up to it, maybe I’ll try to watch it in August 2022.
The question I ask myself upon rewatching is through which lens do I rewatch the film. A 2022 lens, which is probably unfair, or the 2007 lens in which the film was released. Not even taking the lens into account, there are certain aspects that do not age well. This doesn’t even begin to take the sexism into account either. But still, today’s films take a different approach than movies from 2007. At the end of the day, I’m opting to watch through a 2007 lens while being mindful of the change in the environment since its release. Fifteen years after its release, Knocked Up is a time capsule of comedy filmmaking from over a decade ago.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Judd Apatow
CAST: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Martin Starr
Universal released Knocked Up in theaters on June 1, 2007. Grade: 4/5
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