Now in Cinemas: Reviews for October 4, 2007

Review: Knocked Up. Also: film fests
Reviews by Jason Pirodsky

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Wildly overpraised but still entertaining, Judd Apatow´s Knocked Up follows the same formula as the director´s previous film, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and achieves a similar level of success. As with Virgin, there´s little in the script to distinguish this from your average profanity-laced comedy, but Apatow handles it with care. It´s unusually restrained, and that´s part of the charm – the characters never become secondary to the jokes, adding a level of realism to the film that greatly enhances the comedy. It´s also, unexpectedly, wonderfully sweet-natured; a refreshing counterpoint to the usual glossy Hollywood comedies (I´m looking at you, Farrelly Bros.) that inevitably carry uncomfortably nihilistic undertones.

Knocked Up
Written and directed by Judd Apatow. Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, Charlyne Yi, Iris Apatow, Maude Apatow, Joanna Kerns, Harold Ramis, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig.
IMDb link

Seth Rogen is endearing as Ben Stone, 20-something irresponsible stoner who lives with his four friends and plans on launching a website devoted to tracking nude scenes of famous actresses (that these characters have never heard of Mr. Skin is, perhaps, one of the most unrealistic aspects of the movie). He hooks up with a drunk Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), celebrating her promotion at E!, and you can guess by the title the result of their one-night stand. The two couldn´t be different and want little to do with each other, but Alison decides to have the baby, and the two try to forge a friendship. Everything that follows is refreshingly believable; we can see the obvious gags, but Apatow goes out of his way to avoid them. Ben truly attempts to become responsible, and though he doesn´t always succeed, his character arc is one of the most appealing aspects of them film. Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd are terrific as Alison´s sister and brother-in-law, and provide some of the film´s funniest moments. And just like The 40 Year Old Virgin, the camaraderie and competition between the group of male friends serves as lasting comedy and has rarely been portrayed more realistically. Female characters aren´t given the same depth as the males, however, and often come off as bland stereotypes; Heigl, in particular – despite her lead role – feels mostly uninteresting. But the film is consistently funny and appealing, even if it isn´t as original as it seems to think it is…and, at 130 minutes, goes on far too long. Not a perfect film – nor the funniest in years, despite what you may have heard – but there´s enough good here to merit a recommendation.


Also opening: a trio of European films that will screen in their native languages with Czech subtitles. Ferzan Ozpetek´s Saturno Contro (showtimes | IMDb), from Italy, takes a look at the gay marriage issue, while the German film Wholetrain (showtimes | IMDb), directed by Florian Gaag, focuses on adolescent graffiti culture in Munich. And the Cannes Palme D´or-winning abortion drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (showtimes | IMDb), from Romania and director Cristian Mungiu, screens at Evald.

AND: Two small film festivals bring a number of other new European films to Prague screens – many of which will play with English subtitles. Festival Der Film 2007 showcases current German film at cinemas Světozor and Aero, while the cultural fest Islandský Průvan brings Icelandic films (all of which screen with English subs) to Aero.

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