Monday, January 14, 2008

KNOCKED UP (Universal 2007) Universal Home Video

What would you do if you became pregnant by an oversexed bong-snorting gross pig of a human being after one drunken night of bar-hopping debauchery?

Such is the question proposed in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (2007) a mindlessly indoctrinating, severely cliched and strained, weak-premised regurgitation of that 'what if' and 'day after' scenario. The film is populated by thoughtless/clueless individuals who wouldn’t be able to discover their own navels with two hands and a compass. This movie is as primary in its objectives and painfully obvious in its execution as any clap-trap about twenty-somethings who should never become parents.

Apatow’s screenplay bombards the audience with an endless line up of 'go for the crotch' humour with the inevitable and largely predictable 'happy ending' tacked on for good measure. The script is not only simplistic, but as much in bad taste as it left a bad taste with this critic. One vagina joke can be funny. Two is 'oh, please' and move the humor above the equator. After all, we're not all five years old who just discovered what our hoo-hoos and pee shooters can be used for.

However, Apatow’s pedestrian screenplay degenerates into an anemic backdrop, merely exploited for the insertion of the F-word into every second or third line of boring dialogue and genuinely ‘bad’ writing. Advice to future script writers: if you can't make an audience laugh without employing obscenities then your lines ARE NOT FUNNY to begin with and Knocked Up is about as unfunny as movies get.

The story opens with attractive Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), a reporter for E!, throwing caution – and the good sense God gave a lemon – to the wind when she decides to hook up with horn-dog off his leash, Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) inside a popular L.A. night spot.

Aside: there’s a reason why managers of nightclubs universally ascribe a design strategy of loud music and dim strobe lighting to their establishments: both – in conjunction with liquor libations - dull and numb the senses.

Alison gets comfortably numb, then settles into a slightly censored sex romp. There's an overly long close-up of Ben’s exposed butt crack the next morning that is as pointless as it is unattractive.

From here, the plot becomes so predictable one could be in a coma and still figure it out – especially given the film’s title. Alison discovers she’s pregnant. Oh, big surprise! She decides to tell Ben, have the baby and hope for the best. Of course, nothing proves quite as easy as the first night’s indiscretion. Ben, a druggy dropout with no future and no hope of one, isn’t father material. He’s just a sperm donor with a potty-mouth and devil-may-care attitude about everything.

Yet, the film cannot even be honest about his character. Anyone smoking as much pot as Ben does would hardly be able to rattle off his own name, much less provide the uninterrupted angry litany of ‘crotch’ humour that philosophizes procreation into pornographic terminology - raw and unappealing.

Clearly, Apatow has no other purpose than to shock and repulse his audience with angry gross-out humour, and such a shame too, since Knocked Up does not even fulfill that basic function - having overplayed its hand in the first five minutes. Lest we forget, that funny and crude do not go hand in glove - and implied comments are always more memorable to an audience than obvious ones.

In the final analysis Knocked Up gets an 'F'. It doesn't stand for 'fantastic' or that other 'F-word'. From this critic it means, 'flat', 'flacid' and 'forgettable'! This movie is a Frisbee. Toss it with the trash because that’s exactly where it belongs. After seeing it once I hope never to see it again. I am trying to forget it now.

Universal Home Video’s transfer is adequate, but not outstanding. Although the anamorphic widescreen image can appear sharp with bright colors, overall it’s not quite as punchy as expected. Flesh tones particularly seem – at times – pasty and flat. There’s also a digitally harsh look to certain scenes; pronounced gritty and not very smooth. Contrast levels are adequately rendered.

Edge enhancement is detected in several scenes. The audio is 5.1 Dolby Digital and aggressive enough to encompass and sustain the abrasive dialogue. Extras include a litany of deleted/extended scenes, a guide to all the one line crotch humor and an audio commentary that, I must confess after seeing the film, I had zero interest indulging.

FILM RATING (out of 5 – 5 being the best)



No comments: