13 March 2009

DVD: "Knocked Up" - Unrated and Unprotected

Knocked Up
Written and Directed by Judd Apatow
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, Martin Starr
DVD Release Date: 25 September 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
List Price: $19.98
Cinescopes Personality Types: Vivacious Romantic, Invincible Optimist

The Film
What if a chick flick and a stoner movie made a movie baby?  Alison (Heigl) goes clubbing with her sister (Mann) to blow off some steam.  She has too much to drink and goes home with slacker Ben Stone (Rogen), becoming (in case the title wasn't a dead giveaway) pregnant.  Concurrent with Alison's struggles to whip Ben into shape as a prospective father are her sister's marital woes, further discouraging the idea that relationships can possibly work out.

Insights abound in the commentary track featuring writer/director Apatow, Rogen and supporting actor Bill Hader (whose contributions largely consist of sporadic impressions).  For instance, many of the film's story elements came from Apatow's real life experiences with wife Leslie Mann, embellished for the sake of comedy.  There is a brief featurette on how they forced Jay Baruchel to ride a roller coaster against his will for a scene, and a truly bizarre segment of a clash between Apatow and Bennett Miller (director of Capote, allegedly sent by Universal to oversee Apatow's directorial debut).  They play the whole thing straight, as though they really are at each other's throats (figuratively and literally), but one cannot imagine such an embarrassing situation being allowed onto a DVD except as a gag.  Otherwise, the only features are deleted, expanded and alternate scenes--none of which feature a commentary.  There is also a 2-Disc Collector's Edition with additional features.

The Recommendation
At its heart, Knocked Up is either an "opposites attract" romance or a tale about reluctantly maturing into manhood, depending on with which of the two main characters you identify.  A friend of mine argued that Ben's stoner friends are mere caricatures, that most people don't have real friends like that.  I have reflected on that, and decided that they are necessary to give true perspective on Ben's arc.  Besides, they help give the film some escapist fun, and that's needed in films.  Apatow found the humor, but more importantly, the humanity, of this scenario.  What makes this film so enjoyable is that at least one of the main four characters (Alison, Ben, Debbie or Pete) is instantly identifiable for the audience.

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