Here’s a bizarre confession: when I saw Knocked Up in theaters, I had just found out the day before that my wife and I were pregnant. Although my situation was slightly different than the consequences of Ben Stone’s one night stand, it was very easy to relate to the roller coaster of emotions the character was going through. Months later (and a miscarriage), the movie is out on DVD. Now that I’m not in such a similar situation, does the movie still hold up? The answer, in a word, is yes. Knocked Up is still one of the most brilliant comedies to come out in recent years, and a damn good movie on top of that.
For those looking at Judd Apatow’s career from a distance, it’s hard to realize just what a genius the filmmaker is. From afar, his movies are nothing but sophomoric humor and “guy jokes,” inspiring stupid games like “You know how I know you’re gay?” between equally stupid friends. There’s no arguing that those things are in Apatow’s movies, but along with them comes an astute look at maturity to balance things out. Combined together, Knocked Up is a curious look at pregnancy and the growth that comes with it, and I’m not just talking about the woman’s belly.
The sophomoric side dominates Knocked Up as we first meet Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) and his buddies, who sit around, smoke pot and drink all day, working on the research for a website which promotes nudity in movies (they don’t know about Mr. Skin). After an unlikely one-night stand with Alison Scott, she winds up pregnant, which leads Ben down a path of discovery, maturity, and growing up. But before that, there’s a lot of messing around with friends, acting stupid, and even a few mushrooms to be smoked. My plot summary may sound rather dry and boring, but Apatow makes it both poignant and hilarious.
Part of the strength of Apatow’s movie is the talent pool he’s built up over the years. Although she’s probably one of the bigger names involved thanks to Grey’s Anatomy, Katherine Heigl doesn’t exactly stand out, but part of the reason is this is a man’s movie, less about a woman coming to terms with pregnancy than the changes it causes in a man’s life – especially an unemployed bum like Ben Stone. Seth Rogen is an unlikely leading man, but he’s absolutely perfect for the slacker hero Apatow creates here. Part of that is also because of the ensemble of friends Ben hangs out with, which consists of a lot of Apatow alumni, including Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, and Martin Star. Juxtaposed against the motley unreliables is Paul Rudd’s Pete, a married man with kids who isn’t thrilled with the life he has, but is undeniably closer to the direction Ben’s life is heading in.
In one movie, Apatow manages to entertain while hitting on the “Lost Boy” desire of men to stay irresponsible and the permanency that suddenly appears when a one night stand leads to pregnancy. We all have to grow up some time, even Ben Stone, and Apatow knows how to tell that story, and how to mix in his traditional sophomoric humor to keep things lively.
The Knocked Up Unrated and Extended 2-Disc Collector’s Editions is one of those DVD releases that is so heavily loaded with features it would be impossible to hit on every single thing included in the set. These are two fully loaded discs with everything you would want from in a DVD, including an extended version of the movie, an informative and entertaining commentary, even more footage, and a look at just how much fun the cast and crew had making this movie.
With as full of laughs as Knocked Up is (especially in its extended form), it’s hard to believe there’s more material that didn’t make it into the movie. Actually, there’s almost half an hour of deleted and extended scenes – and that’s just on the first disc. The second disc includes even more, making almost an hour of deleted material and alternate scenes. This isn’t crappy little tidbits that you’ll be glad were cut either. There are some fantastic pieces of footage here, including a cut scene where Jonah Hill breaks bad on Ang Lee for putting together a two hour picture that features Jake Gyllenhall watering at the mouth but never putting anything in the mouth. Yes, it’s crude, but hilarious, especially for those who thought Brokeback Mountain got more attention than it deserved. For those who prefer the less crude, the extended “cut the shit” rant by Ryan Seacrest might be of interest.
While the ad campaign was going on for the movie, several clips “leaked” online showing other actors who were considered for Ben Stone. Those tidbits come together with even more footage in a half hour featurette titled “Finding Ben Stone.” Clips with Arrested Development’s Michael Cera and Spider-Man’s James Franco were online, but how about Justin Long in the lead role, or Orlando “Fucking” Bloom? All of that and more is in the hilarious featurette that is one of the second disc’s better pieces. Those problems lead nicely into another featurette titled “Directing the Director” which shows the tension that occurred when Capote director Bennett Miller was asked to watch over the production of Knocked Up after “studio problems” occurred.
The only problem is that while the two featurettes tie in nicely, “Directing the Director” is on disc one while “Finding Ben Stone” is on disc two, which means the featurettes aren’t actually connected at all. That design flaw actually comes into play quite a bit, as several other bonus pieces offer alternative views at what might have been, fictional or otherwise, such as a look at another roommate that was supposed to be in the movie: Gummy, played by Numb3rs star David Krumholtz (an Apatow alumn from Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared).
Not all is just fun and fantasy, however. “The Roller Coaster Doc” looks at a real problem the production faced when Jay Baruchel was forced to ride a roller coaster for a scene in the movie after having been promised he wouldn’t have to (he claimed – true to his word – that he would have an anxiety attack). Several other features look at performances by Loudon Wainwright III. Finally, if you really want the skinny on the making of the movie, there’s a feature length commentary giving all the dirt by Apatow and Rogen, mixed with their usual humor stylings of course.
Even listing all of this content barely scratches the surface of the things on the disc; it just highlights the really good stuff. There are still outtakes, looks at alternate ad libbed lines, and more included on the set. If you’re a fan of Knocked Up or Apatow, this is an absolute must own set. If you’re not, well, truth be told you probably should stay completely away from an unrated cut of his movie and the bonus material that comes with it, but you are seriously missing out on one of the best movies and DVDs this year.