Judge Bryan Pope's lovely wife is knocked up, adding sentimental value to this raunchy comedy.
"Now that's how you get pink eye."
Strange that a story about a one-night stand between a burly Jewish stoner and a blonde bombshell from E! would turn out to be the year's most persuasive advocate of family values, but there you have it. Warm, touching and insanely vulgar, Knocked Up is soft-hearted without going soft. Finally, a comedy strictly for adults!
Facts of the Case
An evening of alcohol-induced passion—and some miscommunication regarding a condom—results in an unexpected surprise for directionless Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) and ambitious E! reporter Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl).
Regardless of one's opinion of a certain high-profile senator from New York, most parents will agree that it does take a village to raise a child. Certainly writer/director Judd Apatow, himself the father of two, does. And in Knocked Up, he spends more than two hours—unusually long for a comedy—assembling a makeshift village for his leading man and woman, two strangers whose lives take a sudden, unexpected turn when they wind up in a family way.
Really, the making of a village is what this raucous comedy is about. Apatow was, of course, the mind behind The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a paean to late-blooming romance that became an audience-pleaser two years ago. And once again, he centers the action around the sort of freaks and geeks for whom, in the real world, bagging a leggy blonde is nothing more than a wet dream. But you're willing to go along with his unlikely premise thanks to Rogen, who carries the film with his strong, easygoing presence and charisma, and Heigl, who makes a clean break from Grey's Anatomy with her natural comic timing.
And then there's the rest of the village. In one corner are Alison's party-hardy sister Debbie (Apatow's wife Leslie Mann) and Debbie's closet Fantasy Baseball-fanatic husband Pete (Paul Rudd, these days cornering the market on sneaky supporting roles). In the other corner are Ben's roommates, a motley crew of slackers who spend their days inventing new and ever more dangerous games around their swimming pool and polishing up their celebrity nudity website (think "Mr. Skin"). They're a vulgar and crass bunch of social misfits ("You hear that, Ben? Don't let him near the kid; he wants to rear your child!"), but they're also so endearing that you'd probably welcome any one of them as your child's godparent.
Apatow peppers his comedy with so many zingers that the movie requires multiple viewings. He has a gift for pulling punchlines out of nowhere and turning even the most unlikely subjects into objects of ridicule (vacuous E! celebrity interviews are an obvious target, but Martin Scorcese and Steely Dan?). He also sideswipes you with tiny truths that are by turns hilarious (Debbie's reaction when she misreads a pregnancy test) and amusingly poignant ("I wish I could enjoy anything the way my kids enjoy bubbles"), and he's not afraid to turn his movie over to the occasional scene-stealer. For the record: Ryan Seacrest and SNL's Kristen Wiig may have gotten all the good press, but Craig Robinson's tirade as a dance club doorman yanked the biggest laughs out of me.
Take it from me, folks: Knocked Up is a knockout.
Hurrah! Cigars all around! Universal celebrates Knocked Up's arrival with a two-disc set that showers viewers with more extras than I ever would have thought possible from a non-FX movie. They're entirely non-promotional, and many of them cleverly subvert our expectations of what special features should be.
The movie is on disc one, and it includes about four minutes of (mostly incidental) footage not seen in theaters. The film is accompanied by a terrific commentary from Apatow, Rogen and SNL star Bill Hader (who also has a fun cameo as an E! editor). Okay, so a commentary isn't exactly subverting our expectations, right? Fine. But this is a good listen. It provides the kind of fun that usually comes from a John Carptenter/Kurt Russell track. Apatow and Rogen keep things light with plenty of jokes, but there are some interesting nuggets along the way (kudos to Heigl for being the only actress in auditions who wasn't repulsed at playing opposite such a burly leading man). Hader may be the odd man out in terms of adding much substance, but he does a kickass impression of James Mason, of all people. Added bonus: The commentary includes subtitles.
Bennett Miller, director of Capote, proves to be a good sport in "Directing the Director" (7:42), a very tongue-in-cheek featurette that documents what happens when the studio sends in a backup director to make sure things run smoothly on set.
"Roller Coaster Doc" (5:20) follows the cast and crew to Knott's Berry Farm to film the opening credits sequence, but it's really about costar Jay Baruchel being goaded into overcoming his very real anxiety of roller coasters.
Also included is a performance of Loudon Wainwright III's "You Can't Fail Me Now," from the film's soundtrack.
Disc two is packed with yet more featurettes, only one of which overstays its welcome. "Video Diaries" (28:33) is an interesting, almost daily account of the film's production. Notice how increasingly weary Apatow looks as the diaries progress.
"Kids on the Loose" (5:37) turns the spotlight over to Apatow's young daughters, costars Iris and Maude. Cute and frequently hilarious, it demonstrates why W.C. Fields refused to work with children.
"Beard-O-Rama" (4:03) traces the evolution of Martin Starr's ever-growing beard.
The "Kuni Files" (5:29) follows mild-mannered Ken Jeong around the set, culminating in his big scene, which is shown in its entirety in "Kuni Gone Wild" (5:53). Prepare to wet your pants.
In "Gummy: The 6th Roommate" (6:43), David Krumholtz explains how he was originally cast as the sixth roommate in Ben's apartment until he left the film to take the lead in Woody Allen's latest picture.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Wrong. "Stripper Confidential" (2:03) captures the film crew's entire incriminating Vegas adventure on film.
Meanwhile, Jonah Hill and Rogen talk sexual gymnastics in "First Sex on Camera" (1:32), and Apatow searches for his leading man in "Finding Ben Stone" (30:27). Despite funny turns by James Franco, Orlando Bloom and Michael Cera, this feature quickly grows tiresome.
Rounding out disc two are two more performances by Wainwright ("Gray in L.A." and "Daughter"), footage from Wainwright's recording session, about 17 minutes of raw footage from the film shoot, and almost three minutes of Heigl nailing her character and showing instant chemistry with Rogen during her impressive audition.
The package also includes deleted scenes (28 total), extended/alternated scenes (12 total), about 10 minutes of alternate line readings ("Line-O-Rama"), about 12 minutes of bloopers ("Gag Reels"), and two clips of a cheerful, nonchalant Rogen performing scenes topless. The guy must have lost a bet or something.
As of this writing, I have found only one Easter egg, but it was worth the hunt. For nearly three hilarious minutes, Rogen and Rudd continue their "You Know How I Know You're Gay?" riff from The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 format with an anamorphic transfer, and it looks flawless. Colors are bold and strong, and there wasn't a trace of dirt or debris. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio offered an equally pleasant listening experience. English, French and Spanish subtitles are included.
Look, Knocked Up is one of the funniest, most likeable adult comedies I've seen in recent years, and Apatow and company have only added to the fun with the hours of extra material provided here. The language and subject matter are very frank on both the film and the extras, so this package is not for all tastes. For those who don't mind, though, I highly recommend picking this one up.
Cases involving children seldom wrap up neatly, so I commend Universal for stepping up to the plate and doing right by Knocked Up. Case dismissed.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Other Reviews You Might Enjoy
Scales of Justice
• Feature commentary with writer/director Judd Apatow, executive producer/star Seth Rogen and actor Bill Hader
Review content copyright © 2007 Bryan Pope; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.