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Belly laughs are abundant in Knocked Up

Writer-director Judd Apatow of 2005’s sleeper hit The 40-Year-Old Virgin is back for more summertime laughs with the comedy Knocked Up. The film stars Katherine Heigl (TV’s Grey’s Anatomy) and Seth Rogen (The 40-Year-Old Virgin). Heigl competently sheds the role of supporting actress to fill the daunting shoes of leading lady – and in a comedy at that. Rogen has less acting territory to traverse as he plays a role similar to his part in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Though Heigl and Rogen are still strangers to leading role territory, both commandingly and hilariously carry the film. Heigl plays Allison Scott, a beautiful entertainment journalist who’s out celebrating her promotion when she meets pudgy-yet-lovable stoner Ben Stone (Rogen) at a club. From what can only be described as a case of beer goggles, Allison brings Ben home. To her chagrin, and his welcome surprise, the pair wake up the next morning to realize that they have engaged in what each of them thinks will be a one-night stand.

Exactly two months later, Allison realizes that her drunken one-night stand resulted in an unwanted pregnancy. The pair could not be more mismatched. His idea of a job is a half-baked Web site he’s been making with his slacker buddies that pinpoints the exact spots in films where celebrities shed their clothes. Conversely, Allison has a real career and is focused on moving up in the world. Though unlikely, the pair attempts to build a credible relationship in the months leading up to Allison’s delivery.

The couple’s decision is, of course, not without struggle. Allison lives with her older sister Debbie (Leslie Mann), Debbie’s husband Pete (Paul Rudd) and their two kids. While Debbie and Pete act more like nagging roommates than loving husband and

wife, Allison and Ben attempt not to mirror these flaws in their own relationship. Critics have been buzzing about Knocked Up, and rightfully so. Apatow’s writing and directing skills take a situation that – by many accounts – isn’t funny, and makes it hilarious. As in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Apatow’s characters are human. His characters have flaws, and the audience can easily relate to them.

Knocked Up also maintains a balance. The jokes never go stale because Apatow doesn’t allow one theme to become played out. Although most jokes are gross, they don’t reach the extent that the entire audience won’t enjoy them. Similarly, the moments in the film where the subject matter becomes sentimental aren’t so sweet that they leave a bad taste in the viewer’s mouth. The only part where Knocked Up falls short is the film’s length. Clocking in at over two hours, it begins to feel a little bit sluggish. However, Apatow succeeds in providing consistent laughs that keep viewers’ eyes off their watches.

Knocked Up is the comedy of the summer, and time might extend that title for the rest of 2007. Unlike The 40-Year-Old Virgin, there will be nothing sleepy about its success.