I have to start this review with the disclaimer that I really like Judd Apatow. I liked Freaks and Geeks and I liked The 40 Year Old Virgin. But that said, I was a little bit apprehensive about this film. All of the previews that I remember seeing seemed to make this into a stupid film and possibly a bit misogynistic as well. The 40 Year Old Virgin also had that feel in the previews, but I really liked it and felt that it was a funny and yet very well done movie. If you are not aware of the premise, it is about a couple who get pregnant after a one night stand. They are exact opposites of each other with the woman, Allison (Katherine Heigl), being very serious and career focused. She had just gotten a promotion and that was the reason that she was out at the club where she met Seth Rogen's character, Ben. Ben is a pot head who does not have a job and lives with his stoner buddies where they are trying to create a website which shows all of the films that celebrities get naked, basically a rip-off Mr. Skin. They have never heard of Mr. Skin and so when they find this out about this site, it blows open their whole plan. Anyway, the film shows this couple as they go through the pregnancy because she decides to have the baby. They also decide to try and give the relationship a chance as really they do not know each other after a one night stand. I thought it was funny and actually pretty smart. I would recommend it if you just wanted a non-thinking comedy. There is the review in a nutshell, the rest of this is more commentary and probably has some spoilers, although most of what I am going to comment on does not ruin the end of the movie. So stop here if you really want to be surprised at this movie.
So as I thought about this movie both last night after I watched and then most of today, I thought about how really this is an interesting movie that seems to break a lot of normal stereotypes about the whole romantic comedy genre and yes I would call this a romantic comedy. First, Seth Rogen is not Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp or Denzel Washington. He is a frizzy haired, slightly overweight man. He looks more like me than most movie stars. So, the romantic lead for the male is not super attractive, something that is slightly different. Ok, so Katherine Heigl is very attractive, so they do not totally blow the doors off the stereotypes, but still...
Second and more importantly is that the film embraces the idea of this couple having a child. Now, of course it does as this is the premise of the movie, but there were several scenes where Ben's friends could have ridiculed him for having a baby. They could have ridiculed him for ditching them for the OB/GYN appointments. They could have ridiculed him for spending so much time with her. Ben always wants to be a part of the life of the child and actually so do his friends. I am not saying that they are perfect gentlemen the whole time, at first they do make fun of him for not wearing a condom and basically saying how could you be so stupid, but really how could you be so stupid. There is no mention of the fact that he could have gotten all kinds of diseases by having unprotected sex and I guess that could have been mentioned, but this is a comedy and so I understand not wanting to go to much into the other consequences other than an unwanted pregnancy. But it is refreshing to see the male lead not be forced or guilted into wanting to be a father. There is a great discussion between Ben and his father where he talks about how this pregnancy messes up the plan he had for his life. His father responds, life doesn't care about your plan. And that having a child is a great experience when Ben refers to it as a disaster. But there is also not this grand discussion on his part with Allison about having the child and that he will be there as a father and all of the other cliche things that seem to happen in the movies when a couple has an unexpected child. It is more subtle. He goes with her to every Ob/Gyn appointment and picks out cribs with her and they even buy baby books for him to read. But they also struggle with their relationship and things are not perfect. You believe it when they are together, or at least I did, and you believe it when they break up.
The third and final point about this film that I really liked is that Ben changes and become more mature. He gets a job and moves into his own place by the end of the film. He creates a part of his apartment for the baby, getting his own crib and putting up wallpaper. This is after they have broken up. But there is no real discussion of this fact. He doesn't tell his friends, I have to grow up and be able to support a child, at least not in the film, he does in one of the deleted scenes. He and Allison never had this grand discussion where he tries to get her back by saying how much he has changed and that now is becoming more responsible. We, as an audience, just see the change and it is definitely throughout the film. He does talk to his friends about the fact that the website needs to get off the ground soon. He does begin to act more like an "adult". He hangs out with Allison's sister and brother-in-law who have kids (by the way Paul Rudd as the brother-in-law I thought was great and Judd Apatow's daughter as one of their children is also very cool). Ben changes and becomes more of someone who can become more responsible for the life of a child and even a relationship.
This film had some very subtle points that make it a good movie in my opinion. Judd Apatow does not beat the audience over the head with things that we can see ourselves. He shows Ben moving, he shows him getting a job and he shows us this relationship and the struggles. But Apatow never makes the characters have discussions to explain what is going on or force feed us what we should think. But as I said in the first part of this review, this is not a subtle film. This is not a film that takes a lot of thought to make it through and I guess I am over thinking it a bit, but these are the thoughts I had as I was trying to decide what I thought about the film and how to review it.
I also have to say that the scene where they are having sex and she is pregnant is one of the funniest scenes in the movie and is a bit obvious in the jokes, but still very funny. But on the other hand, they are having sex and she is seven months or so pregnant and very much showing. It seems that the assumption in movies and maybe even in real life is that when women become pregnant the sex stops until the baby is born or the man has urges that he cannot overcome, so he basically coerces the woman into giving him a blowjob or just having sex so that he doesn't explode or some other nonsense. In this scene, the woman is the aggressor and the man is the one who is freaking out because she is pregnant and they are having sex with the baby right there. It basically ends when he feels the baby kick as they keep changing positions until they are on their sides with him penetrating her from behind and his hand is on her stomach. He decides that the baby was kicking him away from mommy and that the sex should end.
So if you have made it this far, I will add that I also loved this film because it is more subtle in some of its elements and that the story just plays nicely and does not seem as fake as most romantic comedies.