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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

 

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Knocked Up (Unrated & Unprotected) [Blu-ray]

 

(Judd Apatow, 2007)

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Universal Pictures

Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: All

Runtime: 133 min

Chapters: 20

Size: 25 GB

Case: Standard Amaray Blu-ray case

Release date: September 30, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC / MPEG4

 

Audio:

English 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio; Spanish & French DTS 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English, English SDH, Spanish & French

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Writer/Director Judd Apatow, Executive Producer/Star Seth Rogen and Actor Bill Hader.

• Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes (27:xx)

• Finding Ben Stone (27:54)

• Directing the Director (7:41)

• Video Diaries (28:34)

• Louden Wainwright III (4:47 & 18:11)

• Katherine Heigl's audition (2:34)

• Topless Scenes: a Seth Rogen alternative. (3:59)

• Line-O-Rama (10:12)

• Beard-O-Rama (4:02)

• Gag Reel (11:52)

• Raw Footage: Uncut, unedited scenes (18:12)

• Stripper Confidential: Rogen & Rudd in Vegas

• more . . .

 

 

Overview of the Ultimate Unrated Comedy Collection:
On September 30, Universal will release their "Ultimate Unrated Comedy Collection" (where "ultimate" modifies unrated, not comedy), comprising the raunchy work of Judd Aptow and friends: The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), Knocked Up (2007), and Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008).

We might as well get this "Unrated" stuff out of the way first. You probably already know this but just to make sure: "Unrated" means just that: the film in this form has never been rated. What it does not mean is that you will see more of the luscious Miss Heigl in compromising or lascivious positions – with or without clothes, or anyone else of significance – unless Jason Segel's thing happens to be your thing. After all, these movies were only R-rated to start with - "for pervasive sexual content" among other things. (By the way, have you wondered what kind of nudity isn't graphic or how the unmodified term "language" is grounds for a rating of any kind?) With an eye to home video, more "R" material was shot, but you are likely to be disappointed if you expect titillation to be consummated.

 

 


The by now familiar faces of actors Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel show up in two or more of these features as misguided nerds, dopeheads, narcissists and generally all-around losers. There are varying degrees of raunchiness and nudity – but the surprise of it all is that none of it is mean-spirited, and both sexes receive their share of demeaning stereotypes. The men are made much more the butt of raunchy humor of than the women, while the women seem to exist for the men to examine their existential problems. I think this is supposed to be funny, but for me – perhaps it's just my age – I simply find it trendy. I think my general objection is that once I am exposed to relatively uncharted images like a man pissing in his face because he can't get his erection to behave, I find no charm in revisiting them.

In the interests of full disclosure I must admit my default lack of interest in movies of this sort, so I was surprised that I not only was able to sit though them, but also found it easy to discriminate one from the other. I even found myself smiling now and then sometimes in recognition, sometimes at the outrageousness of it all, particularly evident in Knocked Up. But just because there exists in these movies a patina of sensitivity to real adult situations, doesn't in my view make them good movies. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is, I felt, the least guilty in this regard, partly because its writer and star, Jason Segel, doesn't attempt to examine the maturing process, or the lack of it, in such sweeping terms as Judd Aptow does in the other two movies.

What makes me want to watch even the loudest or silliest comedy over and over (think: Fawlty Towers, here) is that the audience learns the lesson, even if the character doesn't. Or, as in Valley Girl or The Sure Thing, the journey to change or acceptance is unclear. This was one of the things I admired about Mad About You: resolution came not from insight, but perspective. The same could be said for Some Like it Hot. In raunchy comedy, even these relatively good ones, I don't believe enough in the characters' journey. Perhaps it's because there are so many distractions – the very things that make them special, I imagine – that get in the way of my caring as much about them as I'd like.

The Movie:
6

A guy is in a queue at the supermarket when he notices that the rather dishy blonde behind him has just raised her hand and smiled hello to him.

He is rather taken aback that such a looker would be waving to him, and, although familiar, he can't place where he might know her from, so he says "Sorry, do you know me?"

She replies "I may be mistaken, but I thought you might be the father of one of my children."

His mind shoots back to the one and only time he had been unfaithful.

"Christ" he says. "Are you that stripogram on my stag night that I shagged on the snooker table in front of all my mates whilst your mate whipped me with some wet celery and stuck a cucumber up my arse?"

"No" she replies, "I'm your son's English teacher."

Knocked Up, truth be told, is a movie most everyone thinks more highly of than I do, which is not to say that I didn't have a good time.

The title character, if you will, is Alison Scott, played by the luscious Katherine Heigl. Alison Lives with her thirty-something sister, married with children – the whole schemer. Alison counts herself lucky she's on the other side of the fence from all that goes with married life, especially the wrangling about who will do what with the kids. Alison works on the crew side of the E! cable network and one day gets the promotion of her career – a chance to do interviews on the other side of the camera. To celebrate, she and sister, Debbie (Leslie Mann), go out clubbing. Leslie leaves early to take care of family matters but Alison sticks around to get properly shitfaced, waking up the next day next to schlub of the year, Ben Stone.

Ben (Seth Rogen) is really the central character in this little melodrama about how the unexpected derails one's life plan. In Ben's case, he doesn't really have a plan, so the insult to his integrity is felt even stronger when he is told by Alison a few weeks later
that she is pregnant.

To Apatow's credit, he does encourage his characters to weigh the options. Even more to his credit, he recognizes that Alison would begin to have inexplicable feelings for a man she wouldn't have looked at twice (make that three times, since she did look at him twice before she got drunk) if sober. Heigl is very good indeed in these moments of confusion. Rogen merely needs to be astonished and defensive. But as the story moves along, both Ben and Alison – but especially Ben – begin to take the situation more seriously than either could have anticipated.

There are two major side stories that lend Knocked Up substance – both of them at once comic and difficult: the first is that Ben is not alone in his den of schlubiocitude. He has friends, business associates, all stoners, all imagining that they are developing a website that will catalogue the nude scenes of actresses. I say "imagining" because it takes forever to make very little progress only to find out that just a website already exists. The gang operates on Ben and Alison something like the Montagues and Capulets, except that they don't really care about the outcome one way or the other. These guys represent a way of non-life that is utterly incompatible with fatherhood – at least in terms that Alison could appreciate.

The other plotline involves Debbie and husband Pete (Paul Rudd). It’s never occurred to these two (like so many before them) to actually have a conversation about their needs and wishes apart from their marriage, which invariably leads to secret lives, internally and externally, which would be comical if it weren't so destructive.

Sounds good to me, so why such a low score? Part of the reason is that Apatow wants it all: the low comedy and the sensitive melodrama. That's not impossible (one example: this weekend's Korean TV drama, My Lovely Sam-Soon), but here the resolves are both mechanical and pat. The scene where Ben orders Debbie out of the delivery room, without the high sign from Alison, really lost it for me.

And while I found the idea that "if Rogen, why not me" to be appealing when considered Heigl as a lovemate, I still found Heigl's character to be used as a pawn for Ben to grow up, whereas Alison just went with the flow. Nope. This is his fantasy, not hers.


 

Image: 7/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other
Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Unlike The 40 Year Old Virgin, there did not appear to be undue manipulation and so the result was more natural, less mechanical. Contrast and black level are good, and color is OK with flesh tones wandering a bit. The image moves here and there from soft-ish to semi-sharp. The movie has its share of dark scenes, and grain is evident as it likely should be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 8/8
Aside from the expected front-loading that we would expect from a comedy, Knocked Up has three scenes that require some effort on the part of the audio track: the earthquake that wakes Ben and Alison out of bed, the club where they first meet, and the Vegas scenes. I was less impressed by the latter, which was OK, but nothing that really took hold of me, but the earthquake evidenced some familiar rumble, and the club music and general crowd noise struck me as near perfect. I wouldn't have wanted any more clarity there than I got – just enough to have made paying royalties for the songs worth the money. The music was good, too.

 

 

 

Operations: 9
The menu is laid out like other Universal
Blu-rays I have seen so far – and they are all very cleverly laid out, indeed. I like the arrows that tell you which way to direct you remote, and the bonus feature instructions are detailed and intuitive. High marks here. The
chapter menu includes buttons for U-Control in case you want to approach those functions from that point. And there is also a way to adjust the PIP volume in the set-up menu.

 

Extras: 8
Like the other two movies in Universal's Ultimate Comedy Collection, this Blu-ray has a huge number of bonus features of various lengths, all in standard definition. Most of the extras are pretty self-explanatory and of variable interest. I'm not generally much taken by stand-up or improvisational comedy or the comics that do it, but I have to say Rogen is a funny guy and I enjoyed his behind the scenes bits wherever they turned up. I liked the faux documentary, Finding Ben Stone, a search for the right actor to play the part. It needed some editing but the idea was a good one. The main audio commentary is funny and mildly informative. Good marks there.

 

 

Bottom line: 8
Knocked Up means well as melodrama but works better as comedy. Apatow wants it both ways and it doesn't quite work for me. I hold the minority view on this. The
Blu-ray image and sound is better than expected, especially if you compare it with the overmanipulated 40 Year Old Virgin or the underwhelming Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Leonard Norwitz
September 28th, 2008

 

 

 

 

 





 

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