My goodness, the Knocked Up - Extended & Unrated Edition is virtually pregnant with extra features. Loaded with a second DVD of nothing but bonus material, there are hours and hours of fun stuff to dig into here.
The hit Judd Apatow comedy continued the director/producer's streak of reestablishing bawdy, R-rated comedies as viable box office. The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad hearken back to classic '70s comedies that weren't afraid to be dirty, foul-mouthed, and play it completely unsafe. Apatow, particularly in Knocked Up, takes his movies one step further by also making them about mature topics (okay, maybe not Superbad). He's not afraid to write about actual life moments while at the same time indulging the rude-minded adolescent in all of us.
In fact, that's kind of the point in Knocked Up. Seth Rogen plays Ben Stone, a do-nothing pot smoker in his mid-20s who stumbles into a drunken one-night-stand with ambitious entertainment reporter Alison Scott, as portrayed by Gray's Anatomy show-stealer Katherine Heigl. Much comedy is made of the fact that, without the copious amounts of alcohol consumed, these two would likely never have come together, and they certainly would never have had unprotected sex. Faced now with the prospect of being a father, Ben has to figure out how to deal with the responsibility, how to change his life from being completely about himself and make room for two other people.
Though Knocked Up wowed audiences early this past summer and got piles of positive reviews, some complained that it was maybe a little too long and cited the subplot of Heigl's sister (Leslie Mann) and brother-in-law (Paul Rudd), a battling older couple trying to deal with a rough marriage, as an element that caused the movie to drag. I actually disagree. This side element is almost equal to the main plot in humor and importance. Without this other couple, who point out where Ben and Alison could be in ten years, the weight of the movie's theme would not be as clearly felt.
Plus, the quartet of Rogen, Heigl, Mann, and Rudd is an unbelievable comedic troupe, grabbing laughs by handfuls and also nailing the right emotional beats to make Knocked Up so much more than a standard gross-out post-sex comedy. These four are also only the tip of the comedy iceberg in this movie. Ben actually lives with four other stoners, all regular Apatow cast members. Freaks & Geeks alumni Jason Segal and Martin Starr, Undeclared star Jay Baruchel, and Superbad's motormouth Jonah Hill all play the flipside to Ben's oncoming life of being a dad. These guys spend all their time coming up with insane bets, watching for nude scenes in movies, and inventing asinine theories about getting stoned, getting laid, and basically doing nothing. Once Apatow gets the exchange going between these five friends, the results are funny--and often shockingly so.
In the end, though, besides being hysterical, Knocked Up - Extended & Unrated Edition has the true Judd Apatow signature in that he is also so very good at the sentimental stuff. Despite all the neuroses, despite the perverse humor, an Apatow script has a sweetness and real heart. Very few other modern comedy directors could pull off the romantic side of Knocked Up, making Ben redeemable and finding a way to bring the main characters together in a way that is believable without pandering.
Not that most of you reading this need me to convince you that you should see Knocked Up. Its theatrical take was pretty massive, and so a good portion of the audience out there is already sold on the quality of this comedy. It's the DVD package we're here for, so let's dig in.
First things first, if this is the Extended & Unrated Edition , what's different about it?
As far as the extended edition is concerned, I didn't really notice much change on my own when I watched the movie again (having seen it once in the Cineplex). The theatrical running time was 129 minutes, while the new time is 133, so it's not like there is a huge amount that was restored for this cut. In the commentary, Apatow notes that the "morning after" scene where Katherine Heigl explains to Leslie Mann about her mistake is new to this cut, as well as the scene that follows immediately after where Seth Rogen tells his friends about the encounter in completely different terms. That alone constitutes pretty much three minutes on its own, and it works because it adds to explaining the opposing perspectives the characters have in regards to what happened. There is also a very funny dialogue exchange between Rogen and Heigl on their way to meet gynecologists where Rogen makes a threesome joke.
Lastly, later in the movie, there is added material with Heigl calling Rogen as she goes into labor. And that's about it.
Though not to fear, fans of bonus footage and cutting-room floor material! Once the movie is done, prepare yourself for hours of extras that go far beyond the paltry four restored minutes.
The bonus features are spread over both discs, but relate to one another and have the same content set-up. DVD 1, which is also available on its own as a single-disc package, contains the cursory DVD extras.
This includes the full-length commentary featuring Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, and Saturday Night Live cast member, Bill Hader, who plays the editor at Alison's job at E! in the film and also is the other cop next to Rogen in Superbad. It's a raucous audio track, with lots of joking around interspersed with real information about the movie, how it was shot and what the goals were. When the discussion flags, Apatow turns to a bemused Hader to pull from his gallery of impressions, including Al Pacino and Vincent Price. A lot of fun moments come, too, from the guys pointing out the very detailed decorations in the background, as well as anecdotes from their past dating mishaps. You'll also get the rather strange explanation as to why a prosthetic was used for the birth scene and not footage of a real birth.
Both discs include sections with deleted scenes and extended, alternate takes of sequences in the movie. There is about a half an hour of combined material on DVD 1 and an hour on DVD 2. Some of these are hysterical, some are punishing in their length and needed to be trimmed for the final product. You can actually appreciate how important the editing is in the process of making a film like Knocked Up. Relying heavily on improvisation and the rapport of his cast, Apatow and his editors, Craig Alpert and Brent White, whittle down much longer scenes to their essential gold, keeping the movie chugging forward even when it's at the expense of very good jokes.
In addition to these types of outtakes, there are other sections featuring deleted material:
* Line-O-Rama: A rapid-fire collection of various pieces of scenes cutting together the multiple line variations the actors toss out. There is one compilation of these on each disc.
* Gag Reel: One on DVD 1 and two on DVD 2. Collections of tripping, line flubs, and cracking up.
* Topless Scenes: Alternate versions of existing scenes where, inexplicably, they shot them with Seth Rogen wearing no shirt. There is one on each disc.
* Kids on the Loose: Five minutes and thirty seconds on DVD 2 of outtakes with the children in the film (played by Apatow and Mann's real kids), reveling in the unpredictability of youngsters set free in front of a camera.
* Raw Footage: Two more long scenes, "Geisha House" (10:30) and "Swingers"(7:20), that show the two lead actors working through scenes and going on long riffs together. They include redos and interruptions for direction. "Geisha" is a bit too much, but "Swingers," which is Ben making the bad impression on Alison at the diner the morning after, has some good bits in it. On DVD 2.
Some of the menus even have footage you don't see otherwise! That's how much deleted material there is!
Cult musician Loudon Wainwright and Joe Henry recorded the music for Knocked Up, and there is footage of the two performing at Santa Monica's legendary guitar store McCabe's. Three song performances from this concert are given, one on DVD 1 and two on DVD 2. There is also a short documentary (4 minutes, 45 seconds) on 2 showcasing a Wainwright composing session. (Undeclared fans will recognize Wainwright as the dad from that series.)
There are, in fact, straight-up documentaries on the disc in addition to the Wainwright recording session. On DVD 1, for instance, there is "Roller Coaster Doc," nearly four minutes focusing on shooting the guys riding a rollercoaster for the opening montage, and how Apatow messed with actor Jay Baruchel, who has severe anxiety attacks on roller coasters.
For many of the other documentaries, however, a different tactic was taken, and as result, I have a caveat. Now, I have never had to issue a * * * Spoiler Alert * * * for extras before, but I kind of feel like the nature of how these documentaries are done might actually be more fun if it's a surprise. So, if you are unsure or want to go in cold, skip down four paragraphs and past the next menu screengrabs. If you have seen the online clip featuring Michael Cera being fired from the Rogen role in Knocked Up, however, and you got the joke, then feel comfortable sticking with reading this because you'll understand.
Rather than doing just your standard behind-the-scenes documentaries through and through, the Knocked Up crew decided to subvert the concept with a series of satirical featurettes that are sprinkled amongst the more serious documentaries and played so straight, you could easily be tricked into thinking they are actually real. Once you get the joke, however, the outrageousness of the situation adds to the humor. It's this that I was hoping not to spoil, because some of it even fooled me when I started watching. On DVD 1, for instance, is "Directing the Director," a nine-plus-minute short about Universal sending in a second director, Capote's Bennett Miller playing himself, to oversee Apatow's production because he's losing control on the set. The comedy plays on your belief in this tension, and leads to a strong finish.
The rest of these featurettes are on DVD 2, including "Finding Ben Stone," which includes the aforementioned Michael Cera segment. This half-hour documentary runs through a gamut of fake auditions for actors allegedly cast in the lead role before Seth Rogen. Apatow and Heigl have redone scenes with each of these actors, as well as filming on-the-spot interviews. Actors who play along include Orlando Bloom, James Franco, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Allen Covert (a middle-aged actor from a lot of the Adam Sandler movies), Bill Hader, and Gerry Bednob, the Indian actor who played one of Steve Carell's coworkers in 40-Year-Old Virgin. It's very funny. We're so used to self-congratulatory extras where everyone is great and movie productions are well-oiled machines, it's amusing to see these actors send-up their own images and the idea of promotional documentaries.
In a similar vein is the six-and-a-half minute "Gummy: The 6th Roommate," once again featuring David Krumholtz , star of TV's Numb3rs, who allegedly dropped out of Knocked Up to do a Woody Allen movie that never happened. Of course, one wonders was he ever really intended to be in the movie and they're just joking around about it? Or is the whole thing made up?
These all are hysterical and taking this route really heightens the idea of what a comedy DVD can and should be.
Okay...now the rest of you can come back.
DVD 2 has even more features. There is half-an-hour of Video Diaries with Judd Apatow. These short segments are actually serious behind-the-scenes elements, with Apatow talking about what is happening and candidly explaining how he feels about how the shoot is going and letting his neurotic nature shine through. Another of the diaries is separated from the pack as "Stripper Confidential," a two-minute sequence about the strip club scene in Vegas.
Beard-O-Rama is four more minutes freight-training through more jokes about the beard Martin is growing for the "Dirty Man Competition" in the movie and shots of the application of the wigs and make-up that created the look. Surprisingly, the beard insults have yet to get old.
"The Kuni Files" is five-and-a-half minutes with Ken Jeong, the real-life doctor and comedian who plays the gynecologist Dr. Kuni, who ends up being a natural scene stealer. There is also footage with the medical expert who coached him in using prosthetic babies. Six more minutes of particularly angry improvs with Jeong are gathered in "Kuni Gone Wild."
At a short minute-and-a-half, "First Sex on Camera" is Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill talking about shooting their first sex scenes. (Jonah's was cut, but we see a quick clip of it.)
Finally, we get two minutes and forty seconds of Katherine Heigl's audition, reading opposite Rogen. They actually reference this audition in the commentary, noting that her biggest asset was that she was one of the only actresses who managed to talk to Rogen like he was someone she would actually pay attention to in real life. The clip speaks for itself. She holds her own very well.
Naturally, on a DVD with this much extra material to pull from, there is going to be an Easter Egg or two. I only found one. On DVD 2, select the languages menu. Below your audio and subtitle choices, there is a plus sign. Select it, and you will get a long sequence where Rogen and Rudd play the "You Wanna Know How I Know You're Gay?" game from 40-Year-Old Virgin. They hit on some great putdowns and even make fun of themselves for being so self-referential.
The discs themselves are housed in a regular-sized case with a hinged tray. There is also a cardboard slipcase, and inside the case there is an insert ad for HD-DVD. (Check elsewhere on DVD Talk for a review of the HD version of Knocked Up.)
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is perfect. No problems, no complaints.
The "Languages" menu on DVD 1 is one of the funniest I have ever seen. It's a looped montage of various giggles--mainly Seth Rogen's--from the movie. Yeah, it's annoying, but amusingly so.
There are multiple audio options, including an awesome 5.1 Dolby mix of the original English soundtrack. Spanish and French dubs are available in 2.0.
Subtitle options include English for the deaf and hearing impaired, French, and Spanish, and these are also available on disc 2's extra features. The audio for the bonus features is in English 2.0.
Knocked Up - Extended & Unrated Edition was a hilarious movie in the theatres, and now it's one of the best DVD packages for a comedy that I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. The hue selection of material salvaged from the cutting room floor shows the comedic high-wire act this talented group of actors was walking in order to find the best jokes, and the way they are presented maintains the anarchic spirit of the production. It's a marvelous DVD experience, and easily a candidate for the DVD Talk Collector Series.
Jamie S. Rich is a novelist and comic book writer. He is best known for his collaborations with Jo�lle Jones, including the hardboiled crime comic book You Have Killed Me, the challenging romance 12 Reasons Why I Love Her, and the 2007 prose novel Have You Seen the Horizon Lately?, for which Jones did the cover. All three were published by Oni Press. His most recent project is the comedy series Spell Checkers, again with Jones and artist Nicolas Hitori de. Follow Rich's blog at Confessions123.com.