DVDs: Bonus Points Movies

'Knocked Up' Delivers

By JEN CHANEY
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007

There is no denying that "Knocked Up" is a funny movie. Director-writer Judd Apatow's light-hearted take on a one-night stand that leads to parenthood not only won over critics -- according to Rotten Tomatoes, it's the best-reviewed comedy of the year so far -- it also stands as 2007's most profitable film in that same genre.

But you know what's funnier than "Knocked Up" the movie? "Knocked Up" the DVD, which releases today.

The flick itself, while certainly amusing and enjoyable, does not hold up nearly as well on multiple viewings as Apatow's directorial debut, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." But the bonus features on the unrated, two-disc collector's edition ($30.98) are clever, often uproarious and so plentiful that a person would have to be on bed rest to get through them all. (As for that unrated stuff, the longer cut includes only a few more minutes of barely naughty new material.)

Apatow -- whose career has caught fire in the years following the cancellation of TV's much beloved but barely watched "Freaks and Geeks," which he executive-produced -- has a gift for letting the cameras roll when his actors are feeling the comedy flow. The plethora of extended and deleted scenes featuring the slacker friends of leading man (and "Freaks" alumnus) Seth Rogen are filled with laugh-out-loud moments, especially an extended debate about whether Ben should encourage Alison (played by Katherine Heigl) to get a "shmashmortion."

Improv masters Jason Segel (another "Freaks" flag-bearer) and Jonah Hill -- the leading man in the summer's other Apatow/Rogen smash, "Superbad" -- fire off one quotable line after another. (In one of the more unusual questions to ever arise in an argument about when life begins, Hill asks Jay Baruchel, "Jay, do you remember [stuff] from when you were two-years-old, besides the fact that you loved the Cure?") And Ken Jeong, a guy who actually was a doctor before seguing into comedy, earns a standing ovation from cast and crew for his extended manic monologue as borderline psychotic gynecologist Dr. Kuni. I can't quote much of what he says in polite company, or on a Web site with any editorial standards. But trust me, it's hilarious.

And that's only a taste of what can be found on the DVD, which also includes three gag reels; multiple featurettes, including one that spotlights the many actors (Michael Cera, Orlando Bloom, James Franco) who allegedly left the production after blow-ups on the set; Apatow's video journals; a commentary track with Apatow, Rogen and co-star Bill Hader; and a mini-doc about filming the roller coaster sequences that reveals Baruchel having a full-blown panic attack and both Segel and Rogen barfing after seven particularly rough rides. So much care went into the extras -- I haven't even mentioned the one in which Apatow and "Capote" director Bennett Miller get into a fist fight -- that it's a wonder the movie even got finished. Apatow, a self-professed geek, clearly understands the fan's insatiable appetite for more laughs. And here, he serves up a feast.

Bonus Point With Even More 'Shmashmortion' Discussion: The Apatow-Rogen-Hader commentary track covers all sort of pop-culture issues, from Rogen's admission that he really loves "Lost" despite dissing Matthew Fox in the movie to Apatow's confession that he sent multiple unsolicited episode ideas to the producers of "Everybody Loves Raymond." (They rejected all of them.) The track also gives Apatow the opportunity to deny the fact that "Knocked Up" suggests he is anti-choice, an issue that prompts Rogen to question why anyone makes assumptions about filmmakers' and actors' opinions based on their movies. "Are the guys who made 'Ocean's Thirteen' pro-bank robbery?" Rogen wonders. "Is Harold Ramis pro-dispensing of ghosts? Those are people's loved ones, and he's busting 'em ... That's controversial."

Other Bonus Point Picks

Still craving more Apatow? Check out another new DVD releasing today, "The TV Set." This smart, scathing film about the television industry comes from Jake Kasdan who -- you guessed it -- directed multiple episodes of "Freaks and Geeks." The highlight among the DVD's extras is a gem of a commentary track from Kasdan and Apatow that's peppered with stories about the absurdity of TV's creative process, including Apatow's tale about a focus group member who replaced a missing appendage with a coffee can: "He kept criticizing the show and they were writing down everything he was saying ... And I kept thinking, 'In the report, they're not going to say he had a coffee can for a foot.'"

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Also Available This Week

Get a case of the creepy crawlies with Ashley Judd in "Bug." For more options, check out this full list of today's DVD debuts.

Coming Next Week

John Cusack probably won't be ordering room service in the horror flick "1408," arriving in standard and collector's edition DVDs. For a full calendar of what's coming to DVD in the weeks ahead, click here.

Recently Announced

Releases worth marking on the calendar:

  • "Paris je t'aime" did well with the art-house crowd this summer. Its 18 France-filled vignettes come to DVD Nov. 13.
  • Exactly who demanded that Sony release a special edition of "Spice World" on Nov. 27? Oh, it was you? Gee, um, thanks.
  • Criterion's "Imgmar Bergman: Four Masterworks" comes at a time when many are exploring the late, legendary filmmaker's work. Look for it on Dec. 4.
  • "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phonix" arrives Dec. 11, magically, just in time for the holidays.
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