It’s 2 AM and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully-lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.
Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to Knocked Up [starting @ 12:05 a.m. on HBO Comedy]
Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: One of our favorite random bits of movie trivia has to do with Annie Hall. It goes something like this: the archetype of every single serious-minded romantic comedy made in the last thirty years (we’re not including things like 27 Dresses in this conversation) was originally called Anhedonia and it was supposed to be a murder mystery. Only during post-production did Woody Allen and his editor, Ralph Rosenblum, realize that the crux of the film was the relationship between Alvy and Annie. So instead of a sprawling, two-and-a-half-hour shaggy dog, audiences were treated to a taut, 94 minute gem. For Mr. Allen, the course of history was changed forever.
We’re reminded of this story whenever we see Knocked Up. Despite only being eighteen months old, we’ve seen Judd Apatow’s paean to bromance, fatherhood and growing up at least ten times. (Don’t make a face; it’s on cable every other night!) Because of that, we can definitely say that the film is a disjointed mess. Oh, it’s funny and charming and hilarious and touching, and we certainly love it. But at its heart, Knocked Up is a "needle drop movie"–you can flip it on, stay with it for a few scenes and then go away satisfied.
That’s the problem: Knocked Up has enough narrative strands to fill four separate movies. Sadly, they don’t congeal as well as Mr. Apatow would have no doubt liked. And this is not because the entire premise of the film is flawed or because Katherine Heigl doesn’t have chemistry with Seth Rogen (a sneaky little thing about that–they really do have great chemistry). It’s because Mr. Apatow is too in love with his dialogue and the performances to take anything out. We can’t blame him… the movie is overflowing with stuff to love. However to make Knocked Up a true heir to the throne of Annie Hall–a truly great movie--Mr. Apatow would have needed an editor like Ralph Rosenblum.
When we’ll probably fall asleep: At around 1:30 a.m., 85 minutes into the film, Ben (Mr. Rogen) and Alison (Ms. Heigl) have a final knockdown, drag-out fight before their inevitable third act reconciliation. The standout here is Mr. Rogen; while he is obviously funny (listen to the way he intones the line "I just walked three fucking miles through Koreatown to get here" and try not to laugh), what always strikes us is his domineering mean-spiritedness. We’re used to seeing Mr. Rogen play the happy-go-lucky stoner, but in this scene he’d make James Gandolfini proud.
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