Knocked Up is one of few comedies I went to see in theaters. Most of the time comedies are so few and far between worth spending the full amount no that I balk going to see them. After hearing so much praise for Knocked Up and knowing how funny The 40-Year-Old-Virgin was, I went and, needless to say, was not disappointed.
The story of Knocked Up is overly simply in execution but there is something about it that is able to be downright hilarious and still have heart to them. Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) and Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) enter into a one night stand with one another after throwing back (more than) a few beers at a local club. The two go their separate ways and Alison never thinks of Ben again until she finds out a few months later that she’s pregnant. Forced back together by this unforeseen pregnancy, the two attempt to form some sort of relationship with one another.
Of course at a glance this plot sounds like something that would make for a great Lifetime Network Original Movie, but anyone who has seen Apatow’s past works will know that he is anything but gentle with his subject matter. The films opening alone sets the tone that the movie isn’t going to be gentle, what with Stone and his friends sitting around playing games and smoking pot, but, then again, if you’re watching this movie even after you got past the title Knocked Up, then you’re already halfway to accepting what this film is.
While the main focus of the film is Rogen and Heigl’s characters, the subplots with Pete (Paul Judd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) and all of Ben Stone’s roommates (including the highly vulgar Jonah Hill) are what help the main film along. By seeing the core elements of who Ben and Alison are, the audience are able better understand their plight from the psychological view. You’re probably wondering why this matters, but it’s only further evidence of how Apatow’s films are more than just vulgar comedic ventures—the heart that it has is not just thrown in at the eleventh hour to appease poor test screenings, it’s the kind of heart that comes from real life experiences and our own trials and tribulations.
Having said that, the film does exceedingly well at the vulgar humor as well. From the “orgy” that Ben and his roommates have while he’s on the phone with Alison to the gynecologist visits to some of the later sequences in the film. As a whole there are plenty of things here that will offend viewers over 50, as the film does take things into the “gross-out” realm quite a few times. Those who have seen 40 Year Old Virgin will know what to expect—it’s not family friendly humor.
The actors in the film really make some of the sequences here. Paul Rudd has been a favorite of mine since before Anchorman, although that’s really where I became exposed to him in full force. Leslie Mann and Seth Rogen I knew from 40 Year Old Virgin and the rest of the comedy team, while new to me, is downright hilarious. All of them have worked with Apatow at some point in the past and even Freaks and Geeks cast member James Franco makes a hilarious cameo as himself being interviewed by Heigl’s character.
Also another subtle bit I didn’t realize until my second viewing of the film was the music. As evidenced by the special features spread across both discs is the music in the film by Joe Henry and Loudon Wainwright III (who makes a cameo as Alison’s primary gynecologist). In addition to writing original music cues they wrote the great movie closing “That’s My Daughter” song, which, while simple in nature, is the perfect way to end the film. There’s even a live version of that same song on the second disc of the set.
Categorizing this film is slightly difficult and with this and Virgin Apatow seems to have created a new “romantic vulgar-comedy” category that I hope will continue to expand. While his other effort this year, Superbad, certainly doesn’t fall in that category, I have hopes that he’ll make more films like Knocked Up. There’s something refreshing about the ultimate goal at the end of the movie isn’t about bedding multiple partners.
Knocked Up has been released on DVD in several editions, two of which are unrated. The unrated version of the film doesn’t add too much to it all in the end, as the total runtime is expanded by a mere four minutes. The additional footage is used to expand on some of the “morning after” discussions between Alison and Debbie and Ben and his roommates. Another brief bit is when Alison calls Ben while she’s in labor; surprisingly, none of the “unrated and unprotected” footage in the film is anymore vulgar than what was already in the rated edition. Instead, the new footage just helps build the characters up more, which is always a welcome addition.
I had wondered if the unrated cut would affect my feelings towards the film, as it already had a lengthy run time. I’m glad to say that it only helped me enjoy it even more in the end. Overall, rated or unrated, Knocked Up is a superb film in more than one sense. Those who are a fan of Apatow’s past work or those who don’t mind a large bit of vulgarity in their romantic comedies are urged to check out Knocked Up, as the film is great in almost every way.
Someone finally started saving trees because Universal didn’t include any slipcover on the two-disc version of Knocked Up (I didn’t pay close attention to the single and unrated versions when I saw them at the store, so I can’t be sure if they’re without slips as well). Of course, someone also saved the ink-trees because there’s no disc art to speak of. In typical Universal fashion, only the movies name is printed on the bare DVDs. An insert for HD-DVDs is the only bonus included inside. Not to worry, however—what Universal didn’t spend on the packaging they more than made up for on the special features.
Before we get into that we have the video and audio presentation of the film to handle. This isn’t a film that requires a lot of fancy surround use or an extremely crisp digital transfer, although this film does manage to do both. The video looks great throughout and I didn’t notice any major issues aside from a bit of noticeable compression in the club sequence. Other than that, we’re clean and clear throughout and the audio is strong as well. It’s mostly focused in the center channels, but it’s a comedy—surround work isn’t really required. Perhaps they’ll release a “High on Mushrooms” edition in the future where everything everyone says plays from all of the speakers in your setup—hearing Paul Rudd sound exasperated about there being five different chairs in one room in full surround would be nothing short of amazing.
Menus on the DVD are laid out easy enough and contain video clips in the background. They’re pleasant to the eye and easy to navigate and hearing people laugh and giggle over the “Languages” menu was unexpected. On top of that I swear there were scenes on the menus that I didn’t see in the movie or on the DVD elsewhere, like extended rollercoaster bits. Oh, but if you thought that was only the beginning of the strange and original extras on this DVD, you’re mistaken.
The first extra we get to deal with is the full length commentary. With Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and Bill Hader (Alison’s editor friend at E! and one of the cops in Superbad alongside Rogen) in tow, the commentary track is as outlandish and crazy as one would expect. Jokes are aplenty in the commentary alone and you laugh almost as much as you do at the actual movie itself. Of course interspersed with the humor are neat tidbits about the production of the film, making the commentary both informative and completely entertaining.
Next is a series of deleted and alternate/extended scenes. Since most of the stuff cut here is all improv lines by the guys, it’s hard not to find this stuff entertaining—it’s hilarious through and through and if you wanted more of this, don’t worry—there’s even more of it on the second disc. It’s actually hard for me to discern what’s on what disc and even what wasn’t included in the movie now. There are so many deleted and alternate scenes across these two discs, it’s kind of hard to remember what went where; I do remember the only thing that became unfunny after awhile were the Ben/roommate discussions he had in his bed. After about 15 minutes of them on the second disc you got to wishing it’d just end.
There are several other extras that are “shared” among the two discs, including “Line-o-Rama” which is just what it sounds like—clips of actors doing lines over and over. There are a few real gems in here, the majority of which come from Jonah Hill who repeatedly makes up different reactions to Jay’s comments about being “clean shaven.” On top of the “Line-o-Rama”are three blooper reels, one on disc one and two on disc two. If you’ve read any of my reviews in the past, you’ll know that I love blooper reels and these are no exception—this is about as good as it gets, folks: comedians making other comedians laugh. After the bloopers are the “Topless Scenes” where, again, just as it sounds, an actor appears topless during the scene. The actor, of course, is Seth Rogen; the scene on the first disc is the funnier of the two, as the second disc’s “Topless Scene” plays out exactly like the original until the very end.
The first of the three Joe Henry and Loudon Wainwright III music videos appears on the first disc while the second disc houses two others. These were recorded in the guitar store McCabe’s, located in Santa Monica and a short documentary accompanies them as well (located on the first disc).
The first of our documentaries is located on disc one which covers the roller coaster sequences we saw briefly in the opening credits for the film. A whole days worth of footage was shot (and half a days meals were thrown up at the end) and we saw very little of it on-screen. Most of the cast was present, sans Jonah Hill, even Jay Baruchel who is terrified of roller coasters. I don’t blame the guy and he had some serious guts for even riding it once.
Moving along on the first disc we find a second documentary, “Directing the Director.” I should’ve known going into this that it wasn’t real and I had an inkling that it wasn’t halfway into it. By the end it’s obvious the whole thing is a spoof and makes the whole DVD documentary experience a lot more appeasing to watch—it’s horribly uncomfortable to watch at first, but once you’re in on the joke it’s just downright hilarious. It gets so absurd by the end of it that it’s obvious what’s going on.
This does it for disc one of the set, now let’s hit disc two! First up is a series of video diaries by Judd Apatow that document various days on the set of Knocked Up. Like all of the content on this set, this is well worth watching and is one of the few non-satirical “behind-the-scenes” looks at the film. I’m not entirely sure but I believe the extra titled “Stripper Confidential” is also part of one of the diaries, but was likely split off because, well, there are boobs in it. As well as topless women.
“Raw Footage” shows the uncut filming of “Geisha House” and “Swingers.” Both can run a bit long and get a bit old, but watching Rogen make up half of his dialogue on the spot is simply hilarious to see. Even when it gets old you have to admire how long the man can go before he has to stop.
Following up the “actual” documentaries is “Beard-o-Rama”, “Kids on the Loose” “First Sex on Camera” and “The Kuni Files.” “Beard” and “Kuni” may be a bit more satirical than the standard documentary, but not nearly as in-your-face as the other featurettes on the disc. “Beard-o-Rama” is actor Martin Starr lamenting the beard he has to wear throughout the picture and several beard jokes are intercut in this extra as well. “Kids on the Loose” is basically an outtake reel of Judd’s kids (who play Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s daughters in the film) and “The Kuni Files” follows Ken Jeong as he preps for his role as Dr. Kuni. Kuni is expanded in the “Kuni Goes Wild”, which is basically a six-minute take of Kuni improving his way through the first scene with Ben and Alison as she’s in labor. The hilarious “Are you with me Disco Stu?” line from the commercial for the DVD is included in this bit—after watching over half of the DVD, I was afraid that line wasn’t going to be in here! The final documentary, “First Sex on Camera” is the shortest extra on the set and has interviews with Rogen and Hill about their scenes in the film—Rogen’s, of course, are all in the film, while Hill’s was cut (which we see a brief glimpse of—the only time we see it on the whole set).
The first of the two “fake” documentaries on the set are “Finding Ben Stone” and possibly “Gummy: The Sixth Roommate.” The first documentary runs nearly half an hour and features cameos from a slew of people from Apatow’s past and future works, including James Franco, Gerry Bednob (the irate employee in Virgin) and Michael Cera (Superbad). Also included is Orlando Bloom and Justin Long, all who try out for the part that was ultimately filled by Seth Rogen. At first the extra start out in earnest but quickly devolves into Apatow firing everyone—which gets to be hilarious after so long. The Michael Cera one in particular is hilarious as I’ve only seen him in Arrested Development (buy it!), where he doesn’t get nearly as vulgar and vocal as he does here.
“Gummy: The Sixth Roommate” features David Krumholtz, who is the star of the TV show Numb3rs. Having never seen the show, I recognized him as the elf from the Disney Santa Clause movies, although more recently from the Serenity (also buy it!) film. Still, whether this sixth roommate is real or not, it’s a funny extra to see, especially when Apatow keeps popping oranges into his mouth after ever time the camera cuts to him.
After that we have Katherine Heigl’s audition tape, which I remember hearing about before the film ever came out. Apparently, of all the actresses they tried, she was one of the few who held herself in the audition like she could actually talk to Seth Rogen in real life. There isn’t much funny in this clip, but it’s nice to see what landed her the job in the film, as she is excellent in the role throughout the film.
An easter egg with Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd is tucked away on the second disc where they play some more rounds of the “You know how I know you’re gay?” bit from Virgin. Not only is this absolutely hilarious, but I thought they were going to start the same dialogue up in the kitchen in Knocked Up, especially after the “Gaybruth” comment. Glad to see they didn’t completely forget this—it was one of the more memorable bits from Virgin.
If you couldn’t tell by now, this DVD is absolutely packed with content. Even the single disc release is a pretty strong contender, but the two-disc edition of Knocked Up simply blows it out of the park. If you enjoyed the movie in the slightest, this two-disc DVD will entertain you for hours. It’s been awhile since I’ve genuinely wanted to watch all the extras on a DVD, rather than just watching them out of obligation. Leave it to Apatow and crew to rekindle my love for DVD extras! Highly Recommended.
Knocked Up: Unrated and Unprotected is now available on single disc DVD, two-disc DVD and HD-DVD.