Judge Dan Mancini looks like a cholo dressed up for Easter.
Life doesn't care about your vision. You just gotta roll with it.—Ben's dad
The Judd Apatow brand has been sullied a bit of late by his producer duties on mediocrities like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Drillbit Taylor, and Step Brothers. But when Apatow takes on the writing and directing duties himself, the resulting movies have thus far been uniformly piss-your-pants funny. His first feature, The 40 Year-Old Virgin was a surprisingly perfect mix of lowbrow humor and sweetness that made a star of Steve Carell (The Office) and likely caused the soiling of many a pair of Levis. His second feature, Knocked Up, is even more hilarious than his first. And now it has finally arrived on Blu-ray.
Facts of the Case
Ben Stone (Seth Rogen, Pineapple Express) is an overweight, dope-smoking, unemployed loser in his mid-twenties. He lives and plays with his buddies, Jonah (Jonah Hill, Superbad), Jason (Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Jay (Jay Baruchel, Million Dollar Baby), and Martin (Martin Starr, Freaks and Geeks). Unaware of the existence of Mr. Skin, their grand entrepreneurial plan is to start a website that catalogues instances of female nudity in movies. Though nearly penniless, they're in no rush to build and launch the site.
Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl, Grey's Anatomy) is a young professional who lives with her sister Debbie (Leslie Mann, The Cable Guy), brother-in-law Pete (Paul Rudd, Clueless), and their two kids (Maude and Iris Apatow). When Alison is promoted to an on-air position at E! Entertainment Television, she and Debbie go out to drink, dance, and celebrate. At the club, they meet Ben and his friends.
Drunk out of their minds, Ben and Alison sleep together—even though she's way, way, way out of his league. She ends up pregnant and decides to keep the baby. He's determined to support her decision, though nothing in his stunted adolescent existence has prepared him for the responsibility. Together, they tentatively explore the possibility that they might have a future together as a couple.
Structurally speaking, Knocked Up is conventional. Countless romantic comedies trace the arc of male protagonists forced to grow up in order to win the love of a woman. Most end sweetly and with an abundance of hope. While Knocked Up fits into that mold, it also defies genre convention with its unapologetically profane humor and absurdly realistic portrayal of male friendship ("Yes," I informed my horrified wife, "guys really do talk to each other like that."). Apatow's script is finely crafted. Its masterstroke is the establishment of Paul Rudd's Pete as a foil to Rogen's Ben. If 23-year-old Ben is on a journey toward maturity, then thirtysomething Pete represents his destination—a married father of two. The thing is, Pete is responsible, dutiful, and even grateful for the quality of his life despite the occasional hassles, but like most real-life men, he's not particularly mature. Typically, these sorts of movies are told from a female point-of-view, and so you have a male protagonist who evolves towards a woman's vision of the ideal man. Knocked Up is relentlessly male in its perspective. It works so well—is funny and textured and true—because it's abundantly clear that at various points in his life, Apatow has been both Ben and Pete. He perfectly captures the playful immaturity of men, but also intimately understands the tempering value of duty and commitment to women and children. Knocked Up is the ultimate chick flick for dudes.
Much of the movie's ample charm (yes, a flick overflowing with jokes about boners, pubes, and vaginas can be charming) is rooted in how effectively Apatow reproduces the subtle textures of friendship and family. He did so by making the production a family affair. He cast his wife, Leslie Mann, as Debbie (Mann is hilarious enough to deserve the role even if the director wasn't her husband) and his own children as Debbie and Pete's two daughters. Similarly, he cast Rogen's real friends as Ben's roommates. Then he allowed everyone to improvise against the framework of his scripted dialogue. The result is a surprising level of comic realism. What screenwriter, for instance, would pen a scene in which an eight-year-old-girl casually informs her aunt that she Googled "murder"? It's as absurd as it is true-to-life. The talented cast, under Apatow's direction and editorial prudence, deliver inspired comedic performances without sliding into self-indulgent showcases of their own talents. Knocked Up is crude, rude, sweet, and laugh-aloud funny from beginning to end.
This Blu-ray edition of Knocked Up offers two flavors of the film: the original theatrical cut and an "Unrated and Unprotected" version that runs four minutes longer. Either way, the movie looks good in high definition—but only good. Detail is sharp in close-ups but softer elsewhere, colors are bold and mostly accurate, and black levels are deep and inky on the 1080p transfer. As with most of Universal's Blu-ray releases, the English audio track is presented in DTS HD, while Spanish and French dubs are offered in vanilla DTS mixes. All three are pristine, though the English track is the stand-out in terms of both clarity and punch.
The disc is loaded with supplements—most of them hilarious. Apatow, Rogen, and Saturday Night Live cast member Bill Hader (who has a small role in the film) offer up an amusing and informative audio commentary (though Hader's sporadic impressions of Peter Falk, Vincent Price, and Al Pacino get old after a while). A U-Control picture in picture feature offers a scene-specific blend of interview segments and behind-the-scenes sequences that, when activated, periodically play alongside the feature.
A Deleted Scenes reel runs 49:19. The collection of 21 segments is also indexed so you can play them individually. Similarly, an Extended/Alternate Scenes reel runs 37:35 and is also indexed. There's also a Gag Reel that runs 11:52.
The disc contains a ton of short featurettes:
• Line-o-Rama (10:12)—a rapid fire reel of improvised one-liners from various scenes throughout the movie.
• Beard-o-Rama (4:02)—Ben's roommate Martin is in a Dirty Man competition. If he doesn't shave or cut his hair for a year, the other guys will pay his rent. If he gives in, then he has to pay their rent. Throughout the movie, they rip on him mercilessly in order to coax him into shaving, calling him everything from "Martin Scorsese on coke" to "the shoe bomber." This reel contains a plethora of unused name-calling. "Vagina from the 1970s" comes up at least three times.
• Kids on the Loose (5:36)—a collection of unused footage and alternate takes of scenes with Maude and Iris Apatow.
• Finding Ben Stone (27:54)—Apatow's travails in trying to cast the lead for his film. Michael Cera (Superbad), Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard), and David Krumholtz (Numb3rs) are among the "douche bags" with whom Apatow found it impossible to work.
• Directing the Director (7:41)—When relations between Apatow and Universal become strained, Bennett Miller (Capote) is brought in to do a little stealth directing.
• Gummy: The Sixth Roommate (6:42)—Apatow and David Krumholtz recall how Krumholtz was supposed to be the sixth roommate in the movie until he quit to be in a Woody Allen film, provoking Apatow's ire.
• Roller Coaster Doc (5:19)—a behind-the-scenes look at Apatow's quest to capture a brief sequence in which Ben and his roommates ride a roller coaster…even though thrill rides give Jay Baruchel anxiety attacks.
• Kuni Files (5:28)—Ken Jeong arrives for his first day playing Dr. Kuni. It's his screen debut. It turns out to be not quite as glamorous as he imagined.
• Kuni Goes Wild (5:52)—a collection of alternate takes of Dr. Kuni freaking out during Alison's delivery. His assholery is delightful.
• Topless Scenes (3:59)—exactly what it sounds like…and not.
• Stripper Confidential (2:02)—a behind-the-scenes look at Day 54, when Apatow shot topless dancers entertaining Ben and Pete in Vegas. Lesson learned: lots of coverage is essential.
• First Sex Scenes (1:31)—Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill discuss their anxieties over the possibility of getting, um, excited during their respective sex scenes.
• Video Diary (28:34)—brief behind-the-scenes looks at all 56 days of the shoot.
• Raw Footage (18:13)—unedited production footage from two scenes in the movie.
• Katherine Heigl Audition (2:43)—Heigl and Rogen read a contentious scene from the movie. She's good…really good.
• Loudon Wainwright III Scoring Session (4:47)—Wainwright discusses scoring the picture as well as playing Alison's gynecologist. Footage of the low-key recording sessions is included.
• Loudon Wainwright III Live at McCabe's (18:11)—a collection of five tunes performed live at McCabe's Guitar Shop: "You Can't Fail Me Now," "Passion Play," "Strange Weirdos," "Grey in L.A.," and "Daughter." The songs are individually indexed or you can opt to play them all.
All video supplements are presented at 480p resolution.
Knocked Up is one of the funniest comedies in recent memory. If you haven't seen it, do so immediately (you might want to slip into a pair of Depends before pressing Play). The solid video and audio presentation of two versions of the film plus a bonanza of extras makes this Blu-ray release the preferred way to check it out.
Hey, don't let the door hit you in the vagina on the way out.
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.
Scales of Justice
Review content copyright © 2008 Dan Mancini; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.