Is a 2007 movie about schlubs, bong hits, stealthing, and fat shaming really something we should be praising ten years after its successful release? In the case of Knocked Up: abso-fucking-lutely, but not entirely for the reason you may first suspect. A decade later, its potty humor and one-liners are still funny (and the subsequent drama between the two co-stars is resolved), but it's musical aura is what makes it so warmly nostalgic.
The whole premise of the film plays on the heteronormative stereotypes of a perfect couple who is ready for kids a life of sweet domestic bliss. It's about growing up even when shit sucks. It's about putting other people first, and taking on life's challenges, because sometimes that is the only option. The messy lives of the two main characters, the pretty and controlling TV producer and host on E! Alison (Katherine Heigl), and the 23-year-old (lol) stoner deadbeat man child Ben (Seth Rogen) end up woven together with a happy, healthy baby, but the dirty jokes and picturesque ending to this deeply funny 2000s Judd Apatow flick isn't what makes this film such a timeless romp. Rather, it's the randomly spot-on soundtrack.
I recently re-watched the film for the first time in a long time, and I noticed that the extremely dated music is exactly what makes a comedy like this so memorable. It immediately brought me back to watching the film as a 15-year-old, hearing Ol' Dirty Bastard's "Shimmy Shimmy Ya" for the first time in the opening scene and thinking to myself "I'm so happy I'm not watching this with my parents." I had never really appreciated it before, but as the movie went from joke to joke and song to song, I savored the cheesy background music, which included: "Smile" by Lily Allen, "Girl" by Beck, "Toxic" (!) by Britney Spears, and "Lighters Up" by Lil' Kim — to name a few. The movie is as riddled with flip phones and bad going out tops, but it's real nuance is delivered with those throwback hits.
The best song in the whole movie plays during the nightclub scene, which also happens to be the catalyst for the rest of the movie (they sleep together right after — and you know what happens next). Right as the alcohol starts to kick in, the duo hits the dimly lit dance floor right as "Swing" by Savage starts blasting. I cannot tell you how many times I, after seeing this scene, listened to the opening verse of the revolutionary rap bop: "Oh shit, shake that ass ma, move it like a gypsy/ Stop, whoa, back it up now let me see your hips swing." Paired with Ben's lame and embarrassing "roll the dice" dance move, it's the fucking best.
So, the next time you're watching a rerun of $149 million dollar 2007 Apatow hit on E! (E! loves to play this movie because they're featured in it), pay special attention to the sparkling soundtrack.
It's so bad that it's good. And isn't that how all the best comedies are?
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