- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
All photos © Universal
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s been a long time coming for Judd Apatow. Success, that is. Following his involvement in three of the most critically acclaimed television series of the past 15 years (“The Larry Sanders Show,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared”), Apatow finally struck gold in 2005 when “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” became the sleeper hit of the summer. One would think that for his next project, the in-demand writer/director would play it safe before risking another R-rated comedy, but apparently, he's waited too long to just play it safe. Now that he’s tackled the topic of sex, Apatow continues his exploration into the world of relationships with the next logical step – pregnancy – and in doing so, has created another cult classic.
"Knocked Up" stars “Virgin” scene-stealer Seth Rogen as Ben, an über-slacker who spends his days creating a Mr. Skin-like website with his stoner friends (Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel and Martin Starr) and his nights scouring L.A. hotspots for women. It’s here that he meets Alison (Katherine Heigl), a career-minded television producer who goes out one night with her older sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) to celebrate a promotion. After meeting by chance and sharing a few drinks, the pair head back to Alison’s place for a night of uninhibited sex. What they don’t expect, however, is for the one night stand to result in an unplanned pregnancy, and although Ben is more than willing to make things work, he’ll have to grow up first.
With friends like Ben’s, you wouldn’t imagine that there’d be a single dull moment in the film, but there are actually quite a few. Thankfully, it’s only to further develop the other characters – namely Debbie and her husband, Pete (Paul Rudd), whose struggling relationship branches out into its own subplot midway through the movie. Some might criticize Judd Apatow for straying from the primary story (especially considering the film outstays its welcome by running just over two hours), but others will find it quite refreshing. Perhaps it’s because Seth Rogen isn’t a very convincing leading man. He’s a funny guy, no doubt, and a solid source of on-the-spot hilarity, but when it comes to his working relationship with Apatow, he’d be better off confined to the role of the sidekick or a seat at the writer’s table.
The rest of cast is great, including Katherine Heigl in a star-turning role, the always-magnetic Leslie Mann as her older (but not necessarily wiser) sister, and Paul Rudd as Ben’s unlikely new friend. As is to be expected, the film is also loaded with cameos by screen veterans like Harold Ramis and Joanna Kerns (AKA Mrs. Seaver), Apatow alum James Franco and Steve Carrell, and other scene-stealers like Alan Tudyk and Kristen Wiig. Of course, none outshine Ryan Seacrest’s hilarious send-up of himself, which takes the cake as the best cameo of the film.
As a result, “Knocked Up” is not only a great cautionary tale about what happens when you’re forced to deal with the unexpected, but also serves as an impressive highlight reel of the industry’s most talented (and often ignored) comic actors. It may not be as good as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” but it’s certainly playing in the same league, and in a year dominated by broad comedies like “Norbit” and “Epic Movie,” we can only be so lucky that movies like “Knocked Up” are still being made.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
If you thought Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” was too long, think again. It’s clear from some of bonus features on this single-disc release (like the 49 minutes of deleted scenes and 37 minutes of extended/alternate scenes) that this movie could have been a helluva lot longer. Still, the movie’s pretty long as it is, so while it’s nice to see Apatow has continued the tradition of loading his movies with hours of extras, a good majority of the footage is better left on the cutting room floor. Other standard fare like director commentary, alternate takes (“Line-O-Rama” and “Beard-O-Rama”), and a gag reel also make an appearance, while the collection of video production diaries stands as the closest thing to an actual making-of featurette.
The best of the bunch is the 30-minute “Finding Ben Stone,” which tells the story of the other actors fired before Rogen was eventually hired for the lead role. Of course, if you’ve already seen the viral videos starring Michael Cera and James Franco, you already know where this is headed, but it’s taken even further when guys like Orlando Bloom, Justin Long and, finally, Apatow himself, attempt to fill the role. Rounding out the set is a montage of the Apatow kids riffing (“Kids on the Loose”), a video diary from Ken Jeong’s day of filming (“Kuni Files”), an extended cut of Jeong’s birthing plan rant (“Kuni Gone Wild”), raw footage from the Geisha House and breakfast café scenes, a short featurette on David Krumholtz’s cut role in the film (“Gummy: The Sixth Roommate”), and a short bit about Loudon Wainwright III's score, making this yet another must-buy from the Apatow comedy catalog.