When The 40-Year-Old Virgin came out in 2005, I was as surprised as everybody else at how good it was. I hate romantic comedies, and yet, despite its occasional flaws, I thought Virgin was pretty terrific. So I was excited to see writer/director Judd Apatow's follow-up feature, the dreadfully titled Knocked Up.
But while it's a decent, and occasionally quite funny, movie about ordinary people dealing realistically with an uncomfortable situation (career-minded beauty has a one night stand with a poor, ambitionless slob and gets pregnant), I found something lacking. Maybe it's leading lady Katherine Heigl, who is pretty and perky but thoroughly generic. Maybe it's leading man Seth Rogen (who owes his career to Apatow, a filmmaker who tirelessly champions Rogen's beefy talents in seemingly everything he produces) who, while amiable, doesn't have the star power that Steve Carell displayed in Virgin. Or maybe it's just that I could more readily identify with Virgin's clean-living, sensitive, sexually clueless dork than I could with Knocked Up's well-cast collection of perpetually stoned slackers.
But while I didn't find anything strictly wrong with Knocked Up, there was nothing about it that bowled me over either. I didn't laugh very much. I didn't feel very much. I didn't like any of the characters very much. I still think Hollywood comedies should aspire to match this film's honesty, bluntness, and willingness to give us fresh faces instead of Sandra Bullock for the 100th time. But this isn't a ringing endorsement.