Knocked Up (2007)
13th December 2007
Ben Stone is a regular twenty-three year-old layabout who lives with his stoner flat mates and so-called 'business partners'. Alison Scott is a smart and ambitious young entertainment journalist at the E! Television Network who's career is on the fast-track. They're not the sort of people you'd expect to get along together - let alone ending up sleeping together. So, when the pair meet on a drunken night out whilst Alison is out celebrating her new promotion with her sister, you wouldn't have bet a beer - let alone any of your hard earned wage - on them getting on together. But, with beer goggles in hand, Alison takes a strange liking to Ben and before Ben can believe his luck one thing leads to another and they're getting it on. Unfortunately, Ben has forgotten to put something else on a very important part of his anatomy.
The next morning Alison awakes to a big, brash and hairy bottom bearing Ben in her bed. Horrified by her drunken encounter, and with terrible memories from the previous nights activities slowing coming back, Alison has to endure an embarrassingly and awkward breakfast before making a sharp exit leaving Ben - after eating his pancakes - to do the walk of shame. But Alison hasn't seen the last of Ben. A couple of months down the track and Ben a hazy memory, Alison realises that her morning sickness is not quite the stomach bug she thought it was. Her shock turns to absolute horror when she realizes she's been impregnated by her frizzy haired, beer bellied, one-night stand. Faced with the prospect of going it alone or getting to know the baby's father, Allison decides to give the loser a chance.
Thrown in at the deepest of deep ends, the young pair turn to Alison's sister Debbie - who doesn't like Ben at all - and brother-in-law Pete as parenting role models. However, looks can be deceiving and the pair soon realise that even established couples don't always paint a picture of domestic bliss with some suspicious activities occurring after dark that cause Debbie to tail her husband. Should they raise the baby together? What makes a happy lifetime partnership after all? Well, they've got nine months of confusing diagrams and antenatal classes to figure it all out.
Unfortunately, a work of a DVD review is never an easy one as the preview disc comes equipped with a Property of Universal Pictures International Entertainment banner burnt into the picture every ten minutes or so. As such, I can't really tell whether the transfer used here is the same one which will appear on the final retail product (although the various disclaimers and piracy spiel are present). Never the less, it's still a good transfer, with a picture that is bright and colourful with a good level of detail throughout. Black levels are solid whilst all ranges of colours are handled with ease - even day and night scenes show no real problems with either outlining or pixelisation. Naturally, for such a recent release there are no problems with dust specks or other forms of print damage. Fortunately, I've not seen the HD-DVD version, otherwise I might be a little more critical of the image quality - and the quality of my A/V setup!
Given the amount of languages and extras shoehorned onto the disc it's rather unsurprising to find a much reduced 384 Kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Never the less, we're not an action film demanding full on room shaking effects at every opportunity and, by sacrificing the soundtrack bandwidth for more extras, it pays off handsomely. With the quality of the dialogue preserved in the front and centre channels you're simply left to chuckle at the one liners and general mayhem whilst the surround channels occasionally announce themselves with portions of the musical score and ambient effects. All in all, for a film such as this, you really can't hope for much else.
To say that Knocked Up is lacking in extras is a bit of an understatement as the two-disc edition reviewed here boasts over four hours of extras of just about every conceivable variety. The extras are spread across the two discs and include such things as Deleted Scenes, Outtakes, Featurettes and Video Diaries. Once you get past the usual copyright spiel - and even a language selection menu - you are greeted with a simple menu system that is scored and animated with clips from the film. Even the numerous sub-menus offer a different menu and score. It's all very simple stuff but very effective.
The main extra on the film disc is the Audio Commentary with Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and Bill Hader. Naturally, if you gather a group of jokers together than you'll get a joke and rather immature commentary to go with it. And, indeed, this is the case here with the majority of the yack track taken up with Seth Rogen laughing and giggling in an increasingly annoying manner. However, in between the bar room banter, the group do manage to reveal the occasional bit of information - and given that this disc is an extended version not seen in cinemas - it's sometimes a pointer to help indicate new scenes. Still, even though I love the film to bits, I couldn't put up with puerile banter for the entire film and had to give up.
Running for nineteen minutes, and with far too many scenes to mention, the fourteen Deleted Scenes show just how long this film really could have been. I'm sure most of the scenes have been trimmed for time reasons, but they include such gems as Bathroom (Fart) and Jonah - Brokeback Mountain (which perhaps reveals something about Jonah in the process). There's even an alternate ending with a different sex of baby too (I won't spoil it by revealing whether they have a boy or girl). If you thought those deleted scenes covered every angle then think again as, next up, we have nine minutes worth of Extended and Alternate Scenes. Again, trimmed for time reasons, the five scenes have been lost without losing anything from the film, but an extended scene with Jonah making fun of Jonah's beard in the nightclub was hilarious. Judd Apatow even had the guts to drop a red carpet cameo from Owen Wilson.
Next up is four minutes of Line-O-Rama which consists of just about every member of the cast adlibbing their way through just about every scene in the film. It's great to see a comedy being made up with lines such as this, but does this mean there was actually a script?! Following on are three minutes worth of unfunny Gag Reel which, considering this is a comedy film with great actors, should have been at least a little bit funny. Next up is the five minute Roller Coaster Documentary. Whilst it tries not to be funny, it actually is. Basically, poor old Jay Baruchel has a roller-coaster phobia and, even though he's finally convinced to go on, his terrified looks aren't acting - they're his true face. But what makes this all the more funny is that, other than the opening credits, the rollercoaster scenes are hardly used in the film and make his pant filling and - after lots of takes and breakfast - the rest of the casts vomiting rather fruitless.
Next up is the three minute, and rather good, Louden Wainwright - Live At Maccabe's video of You Can't Fail Me Now as heard in the film. Amongst all of the other deleted and extended scenes is one that I did actually agree with the removal of - and that's the thirty second Topless Scene - Web Design Company. Before you go and get all excited thinking that Katherine Heigl has shown her breasts, it's actually a topless Seth Rogen, and if there was ever a good reason to cut a scene then the evidence is here. The final feature on the first disc is the seven minute Directing The Director mockumentary. Weird to the last, due to some "issues" with the production company, it has another director watching over the shoulder of Judd Apatow and overriding his directions. I guess they were trying to be funny. Unfortunately, it didn't work.
Are you maxed out on extras yet? Well, you'd better not be as we've got another extras laden disc to explore yet. Although some of the extras are 'revisited' they do contain plenty more clips - and they tend to be a little more risqué too so you'd better keep this away from the kids (although, you'd better be keeping the first disc away from in the first place!). The menu layout on the second disc is pretty much the same as the first, with a different front screen, whilst the menus are easy to navigate through without getting lost in the sea of extras.
First off are the thirty minutes of Deleted Scenes and another thirty minutes of Extended and Alternate scenes. Most of these scenes are repeated from the first disc but with slight differences. Again, there's far too many scenes to go through in much detail, but the more you watch this collection the more you realise just how much adlibbing and individual creativity went on. Quite how this was contained on set is a bit of a mystery and it makes you wonder just how much film was left around the cutting room floor. Before starting filming director Judd Apatow must have already started to consider a future DVD release and decided to compose a Video Diary. Split into a number of different days, the twenty-two entries can either be played in one go or individually selected from the two menu pages. Each diary entry runs for various amounts of time and, although some are more interesting than others, all of them contain plenty of behind the scenes and actual film footage.
Next up is the five minute Kids on the Loose featurette. They say never work with kids (especially the directors) or animals and this featurette goes on prove that this is absolutely true with the youngest member of the cast being a little troublesome and hard to coax into doing things for the camera. With plenty of clips from the film, the four minute Beard-o-Rama featurette has Martin Starr talking about his ever increasing beard. I can't make my mind up whether he's acting for the camera, but he certainly comes across as being rather cheesed off with the beard, the amount of time it takes to put on and his unfortunate "dirty man" look. In the rather funny five minute Kuni Files featurette, the criminally underused Ken Jeong talks about his role in the film. After a brief tour around his rather sparse looking trailer we dive straight onto the set and into the thick of the action and, to much laughter from the director and crew, adlibs his heart out in hilarious fashion with his full and hilarious tirade available in the five minute Kuni Gone Wild featurette - a definite highlight amongst this huge collection of extras.
The six minute Gummy : The Sixth Roommate featurette looks at David Krumholtz - the roommate that never was. Already having rehearsed and offered a part in the film he bailed out of the production after getting an offer for a lead part in a Woody Allen film. However, this film collapsed and left him without a role in either film. It's an interesting featurette, especially when you get to see both sides of the story - including the orange eating director Judd Apatow grumbling about being left in the lurch to a rather disappointed looking David telling his tale of woe. The two minute Stripper Confidential featurette takes a look at a Las Vegas strip club scene that wasn't used in the film. Naturally, there's lots of happy smiling male faces whilst there's plenty of lady flesh to be seen. Next up is the thirty minute, and overly long, Finding Ben Stone featurette. I thought it was going to be a detailed and in depth featurette on how the director went about finding the lead character, however it turned into a rather disappointing mockumentary with numerous stars "auditioning" for the role. Needless to say, I got bored and didn't last the full thirty minutes.
The four minute Loudon Wainwright III Scoring Session and six minute Loudon Wainwright III Live At McCabe's featurettes simply look at Loudon doing his 'bit' for the film. Although the scoring session is related to the film, the two Grey in LA and Daughter tracks are recorded from a live concert and are included for no particular reason other than the director probably liked it. Still, if you like his style of inoffensive folk music then you're bound to be impressed with it's inclusion here. The Line-o-Rama featurette makes another appearance with six minutes of Version 2 material. As with the Line-o-Rama, the Outtakes are back with a five minute and three minute version. Apart from the swearing there's not much difference between the lot of them and why they are split up into two parts is a bit of a mystery.
Next up are two rather pointless featurettes with the two minute First Sex On Camera discussing that awkward situation a male actor goes through when trying not to get aroused during filming whilst the three minute Topless Scene - Restaurant featurette has Katherine Heigl and a topless Seth Rogen prattling on in a rather pointless manner. And there's me thinking that it would be Katherine who'd be the topless one. Although the content is actually used in one form or another, there's yet more unseen footage in the ten minute Raw Footage - Geisha House and seven minute Swingers featurette. Exhausted from all the exploring all of the extras, the final part of the collection is the three minute Katherine Heigl Audition. There's even an Easter egg to be discovered too.
With the surprise box office successes of Superbad and The 40-Year-Old Virgin under his belt, director Judd Apatow had another smash with this summer 2007 sleeper hit. After seeing a trailer for the film on the Internet way back in 2006, I couldn't wait for it to be released in the UK - in fact I even managed to get to one of the first showings in my area. Fortunately, all the gags in the trailer were there and the film was just as funny as I'd hoped - after all, with a large number of stars from the The 40-Year-Old Virgin returning, it was a sure fire comedy hit. So, it's great to find such an extras packed DVD release - it's just a pity it's taken such a long time to be finally released on our favourite shiny little silver discs. Still, I can't really complain as it was most definitely worth the wait.