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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir-scr Judd Apatow|
with Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, Harold Ramis, Joanna Kerns, Alan Tudyk, Adam Scott
release US 1.Jun.07, UK 24.Aug.07
06/US Universal 2h09
Bun in the oven: Rogen and Heigl
Over two hours is far too long for a comedy. But everything else about this film works perfectly. Not only is it hysterically funny, but it's refreshing to see a movie about adults that's not dumbed down for kids.
Ben (Rogen) is a 23-year-old slacker living in stoned-out oblivion with four pals (Baruchel, Segel, Hill and Starr). On a night out, he meets sexy E! reporter Alison (Heigl). Several drinks later, they end up in bed; several weeks later, she discovers she's pregnant. They decide to make a go of their relationship, even though Ben can't get to grips with growing-up and Alison's on-screen career is threatened by her weight gain. And it doesn't help that Alison's controlling sister (Mann) and relaxed brother-in-law (Rudd) are having problems of their own.
Apatow's sharp writing and directing keep the film grounded even as the plot falls into a rom-com formula. The characters are full of life, played naturally by the gifted cast to draw out the absurd humour in everyday situations. We can certainly all identify with the rampant self-doubt everyone struggles with. Tiny details keep us laughing out loud and set us up for the more outrageous comedy set pieces.
And there are plenty of those, from Ryan Seacrest's hysterical outburst about spoiled Hollywood stars to a sudden onslaught of morning sickness (while Alison's interviewing a not-amused James Franco), from Cirque du Soleil on magic mushrooms to the uproarious birth sequence. Each of the bit players and cameos gets a chance to shine. Apatow somehow manages to give just about every actor he has ever worked with on film or TV a chance to steal a bit of the scenery. And they all go for it.
But Apatow is also knowingly examining relationships from an honest, grown-up perspective. If the language is blunt, the sex awkward, the medical sessions freaky, it's because this is how real people talk, behave and react. Each character has his or her unique reaction to what happens around them, struggling with change and acceptance. Yes, the film's overlong running time betrays some self-indulgence on Apatow's part. But since he's this good at telling such a likeable story, we'll let him get away with it.
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© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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