Ruddtrospective #16: Judd Apatow Is A Good Director – Part Two

Spoilers for Knocked Up and the Paul Rudd/Seth Rogen Super Bowl Lay’s commercial. You probably already know that I like this movie, so I’ll just say that now too.

Knocked Up(2007) stars Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Martin Starr, Charlyne Yi, Maude Apatow, and Iris Apatow. It also features Harold Ramis, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ken Jeong, Craig Robinson, B.J. Novak, Mo Collins, Adam Scott, Steve Carell, Jessica Alba, James Franco, Dax Shepard, and Ryan Seacrest.

Knocked Up is about Ben(Seth Rogen) and Alison(Katherine Heigl), two people who meet at a bar, get really drunk, and have sex without a condom due to miscommunication. A very frightening real-world scenario, obviously. Alison works for E! and Ben lives in a crappy house and smokes weed every day with his friends Jason(Jason Segel), Jay(Jay Baruchel), Jonah(Jonah Hill), and Martin(Martin Starr). I don’t know how long it took Judd Apatow to come up with these names, but it was obviously a difficult process. Alison also lives with her sister, Debbie(Leslie Mann), and Debbie’s husband Pete(Paul Rudd). So the plot from there isn’t very complicated. They find out that they’re pregnant and start getting ready for the baby. Over time fear and resentment begins to set in and Ben and Alison start to grow apart, despite the fact that they love each other. Debbie catches Pete doing something really weird behind her back that I won’t spoil here, and she kicks him out. Then Alison dumps Ben. After some soul-searching, Ben gets a job and an apartment, and him and Alison get back together just in time for the baby to be born. Also there’s a long sequence of Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen getting high on mushrooms in Vegas, which I consider to be worth watching the whole thing.

As I said last time, Judd Apatow is really good at making comedies that aren’t just straight up rom-coms. Because The 40 Year-Old Virgin was a romantic comedy, but it also had great workplace-centric jokes too. Alison and Ben are both going through all this bullshit together, but they also have fully separate stories going on. Alison has a great storyline about dealing with sexism and weird celebrities at work. So in the middle of something that could easily be a standard rom-com, there’s just a random sequence of Ryan Seacrest being a complete psychopath. It didn’t need to be in this. But it’s funnier because it is. And Ben just mostly goofs off with his friends, who all make horrible and sexually graphic jokes. If there’s one complaint I have about this movie, it’s that there’s way too much of that shit, and that’s not my style of humor. Although the best part about Ben’s friends are the running jokes about Martin Starr’s beard. They make a bet at the beginning of the movie that if he doesn’t shave for a year he doesn’t have to pay rent, but everyone can just insult him constantly until he does.

Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s performances are very hard to watch. They’re both incredible in this, but they portray two married people who kind of hate each other so incredibly well that it’s hard to not cringe. In case you don’t know, Leslie Mann is married to Judd Apatow, so a lot of their real relationship crap went into writing both this and This Is 40, which I’ll get into next week. And Pete and Debbie’s daughters, Sadie(Maude Apatow) and Charlotte(Iris Apatow), are Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann’s real daughters. And they’re really funny in this. It’s just really weird watching their scenes, because it feels like they’re all in a different movie that’s way too realistic. And again, that makes sense.

Beyond that, there are just a lot of funny cameos from actors that I love. Harold Ramis(RIP) shows up briefly as Ben’s dad. Steve Carell plays himself trying to not look like a dick on television. Bill Hader is a TV editor guy, Adam Scott plays a dickish nurse, and Kristen Wiig and Alan Tudyk play intense TV executives. There’s really not much else to say. It’s a funny movie with funny people(Which is funny because Apatow’s next movie was called Funny People, but it’s kind of boring and nothing happens.). Judd Apatow is just really good at making movies that are about people living their lives, and he often shows this through very awkward scenarios that are altogether too real.

Before I rank this I feel I should talk about Pete specifically. Pete is meant to be a bit of a dick, but he’s really just tired and self-loathing. He obviously loves his kids, but him and his wife almost never get along. Every time he acts like a dick around Leslie Mann, you kind of want to punch him, but you also don’t, because he’s still charming, even when he’s being an asshole. It’s a real tightrope walk that he pulls off well. This is important because there’s a movie I’ll be discussing soon in which the writing made his character so incredibly repugnant that not even his charm could save him from looking like a dick. But he’s really good in this and in This Is 40 as well. I should hopefully have more to say about that one because it’s much longer.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10(It’s a solid rewatch, but because of all the gross jokes that Ben’s friends make, it’s not one I like to revisit often.)
Rudd Rating: 9/10(During the mushroom sequence Paul Rudd finds five different chairs and then sits in all of them, reacting with more and more fascination each time. It’s very funny and so is he. Also he says marriage is like an unfunny version of Everybody Loves Raymond. Which is funny, and also they referenced ELR in The 40 Year-Old Virgin too. Callback?)

BONUS MINI REVIEW!!!
After watching Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen pal around in The 40 Year-Old Virgin before becoming all bromancy again in this, I thought now would be the perfect time to review the one piece of cinema that literally everybody is talking about right now:

The Paul Rudd/Seth Rogen 2022 Lay’s Super Bowl Commercial
Spoilers if you haven’t seen it, but I’ll link the extended version, the regular version, and the trailer below.
Trailer #1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWc1hiuPhIQ
Trailer #2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ylw1kiFjDfE
Regularhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KjatG0hqwE
Extendedhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJx1xSG_IhY
Behind the Sceneshttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5EzbY2Mg4Y

In case you didn’t watch it, it’s a short recap of Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd’s escapades together, and how they’ve always loved eating suspiciously unwrinkled bags of Lay’s together. Throughout the commercial they go on a roadtrip, get in a plane crash, get kidnapped by Seth’s stalker, fight in a turf war, and move Seth into a very haunted house. More things may happen too, I can’t remember. And the commercial culminates when we learn they are reminiscing at Seth Rogen’s wedding, minutes before he’s supposed to marry a ghost from his first house. It’s complete nonsense, but I thought it was hilarious.

Overall Rating: 9/10(I’m surprised to say this. I didn’t know I would enjoy this commercial so much, but I’m glad I did.)
Rudd Rating:10/10(I’m always there when Paul Rudd plays himself. This was good.)

Anyway, you know I’ll be covering This Is 40 next week. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this! have a good day!

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