Based on how many laughs The 40-Year-Old Virgin coerced out of me, I expected to like its spiritual successor, Knocked Up, just as much. That proved to be an unfortunate comparison for the sake of both me and Knocked Up, which is a very good film. But whereas Virgin was about accepting oneself and making relationships work, Knocked Up focused on futility and change.
Seth Rogen plays an unemployed, porn– and weed-obsessed hipster who manages to shag the gorgeous Katherine Heigl (The Ringer) in a one-night stand. When she finds out two months later that she's pregnant, she dusts off his phone number and decides to make things work. Her model for the kind of relationship she doesn't want is her sister and her brother-in-law, who Heigl lives with. Put the two couples together, and hilarity ensues.
And there are some good laughs in there — but only by taking some realistic situations and portraying them as pessimistically as possible. All of this film's relationships, married or otherwise, are dysfunctional, prompting one Ben Affleck-lookalike to make this observation:
"Marriage is like that show Everybody Loves Raymond, but it's not funny. All the problems are the same, but instead of all the funny, pithy dialogue, everybody is really pissed off and tense. Marriage is like a tense, unfunny version of Everybody Loves Raymond, only it doesn't last 22 minutes. It lasts forever."
Yet the two men's quest for freedom and self-discovery does not lead them not to reassert their identities, but instead leads them back to that which they didn't realize they loved most. Ultimately, the main character (of whom someone astutely points out looks more 33 than 23) gives up his anarchistic ways, conforms to American expectations, and gets taken back by the girl.
How naive of me to not realize: resistance is futile.