- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 2, 2007

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving the entertainment lives of families, provides reviews of the latest movies from a parenting perspective. For more reviews, click on commonsensemedia.org.

‘Knocked Up’

Rating: R for sexual content, drug use and language.

Common Sense Media: Pause. For ages 16 and older.

**** (out of five stars)

Running time: 129 minutes

Common Sense review: Judd Apatow — the mastermind behind 2005’s summer smash “The 40 year-Old Virgin” and comedy producer extraordinaire — is back with “Knocked Up,” another raunchy-but-sweet story that’s not for the easily offended.

Seth Rogen plays Ben Stone, a 23-year-old living off his meager savings account who spends his days smoking weed with his layabout buddies (Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Martin Starr). Their one ambition, besides getting high, is to start an online database that provides exhaustively researched time-code stamps for actresses’ movie nude scenes.

One wild and crazy night, Ben gets very lucky at a club. Gorgeous Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is celebrating her recent promotion to on-air talent at E! and, after many drinks, is willing to sleep with slouchy Ben.

Thanks to the perfect recipe of drunkenness and lust, Alison discovers two months later that she has much more than a stomach virus. Instead of opting out of the pregnancy — as many might expect them to do — Alison and Ben start dating while searching for an obstetrician, dealing with morning sickness and trying to ignore his friends’ stupid comments.

In lesser hands, it all could have devolved into a cliched odd-couple farce, but with Mr. Apatow at the helm, “Knocked Up” becomes a genuine, realistic depiction of how two very different people learn to be a couple for the sake of their unborn child. Sure, there are hilariously graphic sex scenes and countless pot gags, but there’s also an underlying message about truly facing adulthood.

Common Sense note: Parents need to know that like “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” this comedy earns its R rating with drug use, strong language, nudity and nonstop explicit conversations about sex. Naturally, most teenagers will want to see it, but be advised that the main character and his roommates spend nearly all of their time high on marijuana and that the physiological aspects of pregnancy — from conception to crowning — are front and center. (On the bright side, after watching all of that, it’s a good bet that teens will be much less likely to risk having unprotected sex and may even appreciate what their mothers went through to give birth.)

Families can talk about the consequences of having sex — including pregnancy and parenthood. How do movies and TV shows usually depict unplanned pregnancy? How is this movie different? Does the fact that it’s a comedy make the issues seem less serious? Do you think Alison and Ben made the right decisions? Why or why not?

Sexual content: Fairly graphic sex scenes — not in terms of nudity (although Mr. Rogen’s bare butt is visible) but in the positions and conversation depicted. At the end, there’s an almost documentary-style childbirth scene. There’s even movie-within-a-movie nudity — Ben’s job is to record whenever an actress gets naked on-screen.

Language alert: Lots and lots of cursing — think Quentin Tarantino levels but in a funnier context.

Violence alert: Some pushing and shoving.

Social-behavior alert: Yes, there’s unprotected sex and rampant drug use, but the consequences of both are made very apparent.

Drug/alcohol/tobacco alert: Ubiquitous marijuana use and pot paraphernalia among Ben and his friends. Ben and Pete do mushrooms and hallucinate. Alison and Ben get incredibly drunk before their one-night stand.

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