The Unplanned Pregnancy Handbook:
Real Life Stories, Resources, and Information to Help You
by Dorrie Williams-Wheeler
(In Paperback from Amazon)
With the lowest form of body-parts frat-house humor balanced against an unlikely emotional tie due to an unplanned pregnancy, writer-director Judd Apatow puts out a way long attraction-of-opposites romantic comedy that tests more positive than otherwise, on balance. It would have benefitted from a surgical cut of at least 30 minutes but manages to prevail across class boundaries of taste and humor. It accomplishes this entirely through the agency of its two astutely chosen leads.
Gorgeous Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is a production assistant at a TV station who's just been elevated to an on-camera interviewer spot. Nothing surprising in that since she's a knock-out blond with the kind of open personality that comes naturally.
Living (for reasons of convenience to the writer) with her dominatrix sister Debbie (Leslie Mann), oddball brother-in-law Pete (Paul Rudd) and their two daughters, and without a man of her own in her life, she's ready for a little celebration. The two sisters embark on a night of drink and dance revelry at a local club.
There, she meets pudgy but good-humored Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) who has beat her to the bar to get some drinks. Now, Ben, whom we've been introduced to as one of a houseful of freaky slackers living in a low-ambition fog of existence, is nothing if not funny, and he makes that evident by the way he forces the bartender to pay them some attention. Which manly conduct is the stimulus that arouses Alison's hormonal starvation, which leads to an overnight sex scene in her bed.
Writer Apatow is nothing if not explicit about behavioral detail every chance he's able to contrive, and it's abundantly clear that Alison's shluby bed partner is having some difficulties with a condom, which he winds up not using. With the rising sun the next morning, Alison is realizing that what she did the night before, and whom she did it with, may not have been her shining moment, though she agrees to a mutual send-off over breakfast at the diner, which makes the unattractiveness of her precious night's choice even more evident.
Going for the microscopic closeup of relevant action, Apatow's camera takes us into the macro world of the human body where we see two cells splitting into four. We get it, and soon Alison, now prone to throwing up at awkwark moments, like while she's interviewing big name guests (like Ryan Seacrest), does as well. After testing herself with half a dozen pregnancy kits, she pays a call on her one-time-lover slash father-of-her-child to accompany her to the gynocologist for medical affirmation of her condition.
As Ben deals with the sea change in his life, we (and Alison) see another side of this vulgar do-nothing living off a legal settlement from his home country, Canada. Counter-intuitively, this guy has no intentions of running from his responsibilities and, in his faithful and total support of his pregnant paramour, we get the signal that there's more to the man than sluggish ill behavior. He's gentle, protective and as responsive as any dependant unwed mother could wish for -- maybe, even, someone a sexy high-achiever might find appealling after all.
As though this stretch weren't enough, Apatow apparently knew he had us chemically locked up enough with the drama of the central circumstances to mix in all the lewdity he and the substantial following of "There's Something About Mary" (which he didn't write) have a taste for. From the "Ben Stiller Show" to "The 40 Year Old Virgin," (which he did) Apatow has been consistent in his use of the crude to attract a hopelessly low-brow audience. Here, he sets it in concrete with a 129-minute study of his theme in every possible foul-mouthed dimension of applicable raunchiness and more than one sex scene that are as explicit as they can be when the participants remain clothed and covered. (What, Heigl doesn't do naked?)
The funny thing is, once Heigl sells us on why she might not outrightly reject the man of her nightmares and delineates a character who might take a sort of "let's see" approach, we detect the charm of her interpretation and the possibilities of the premise. Without too much pushing, she remains a class act with a set of values that allows her to ignore profane conduct as so much tastelesness. Her modest, non-judgemental Alison establishes her as a fine-line comedic star in the Hollywood firmament where hilarity is the coin of the realm.
(It occurred to me as strictly a side note that Heigl and Ashley Judd could play sisters quite credibly. What do you think?)
Rogen holds his own, as well, in a role so well tuned to his talents that a repetition might not come his way again despite the adrenalin rush to his career the part will undoubtedly afford him.
~~ Jules Brenner
(Unrated Widescreen Edition)