Two-plus hours may seem like a long running time for a romantic comedy, but the extended and unrated version of “Knocked Up” doesn’t drag in many places. When it does, it picks up the pace again with something goofy from one of its several memorable characters. I haven’t seen the theatrical version, so I don’t know if this one is better, but I’d recommend picking up the two-disc edition if you liked the film, since you’ll also get piles of bonus features.
Since this is a new film, I’ll run down the plot: Ben (Seth Rogen) meets Alison (Katherine Heigl) one night in a bar. He’s wasting time with his buddies — a typical night for him — while she’s celebrating a job promotion at the cable network E!. Writer/director Judd Apatow wastes little time early on setting up these two as complete opposites, bringing them together for a night of drunken, awkward passion that — of course — results in her becoming pregnant.
The possibility of “taking care of it” comes up and is dismissed, which probably frustrates the “Those evil Hollywood liberals!” types who expect all movies to mirror what they see as immoral behavior, especially films like this one. I realize that this story won’t exist without Alison making that decision, but I wish a little more time had been spent on that part of the story. It seemed too easy for her to move past the idea, rather than at least seriously contemplating it, especially considering what was at stake (a major career boost) and the identity of the father (a slacker with little ambition in life, other than cataloging movie nude scenes for a Web site). I’m glad she made the decision — I just think it would have been more powerful if she went through some angst first.
The rest of the movie is pretty much color-by-numbers, with the story ending up where you can easily guess it will from the first moment. The charm lies in the characters and the way they interact. Apatow doesn’t push the absurdity too far, choosing to settle for a comfort zone where most of us can say we’ve done such things ourselves, or know someone who has. (In my case, I can appreciate the “high logic” employed with the chairs in the Las Vegas hotel room scene. Some things really make perfect sense in an altered state of mind, such as the time a couple friends and I went to a Grateful Dead concert, got really stoned, and spent the intermission discussing how we should take out a classified ad for someone to guide us back to our seats, because we didn’t know where they were.)
When you’re done with the film, keep your butt in the chair for another few hours and sift through the bonus materials. On disc one, we have a commentary track with Apatow, Rogen, and Bill Hader, who played Allison’s editor at E!. Like most commentary tracks, it gets knocked off the rails a lot as the participants goof around. Hader pulls out impressions every time the discussion lags, which seemed too often. I can’t say I’m a big fan of group tracks because they almost always end up this way, but, then again, this is “Knocked Up,” not “The Seven Samurai.”
Disc one also features 14 brief cut scenes, including a not-so-alternate ending, that total almost 19 minutes. We also have 8.5 minutes of extended scenes, which are better, especially Ryan Seacrest’s full rant about celebrities who are full of themselves. And if you want to see about 3.5 minutes of ad-libbed one-liners, Apatow presents those too, along with another 3.5 minutes of gag reel footage.
But wait, there’s more: If you want to find out how cast member Jay Baruchel handled being on a roller coaster during the shoot (answer: not very well), you can check out about five minutes of footage on the subject. And if you’d like to see an amusing fake fight between Apatow and director Bennett Miller (“Capote”), click on “Directing the Director.” Or if you’d like to see Loudon Wainright, who played Dr. Howard, perform one of his songs from the movie, you can do that too. And, of course, those of you who salivate over topless scenes should check out one included here for, um, something special.
Over on disc two, we have another hour’s worth of deleted and extended/alternate scenes, plus 20 minutes of raw footage from a couple scenes, where we get to see the actors stop and restart, along with Apatow’s direction. Okay, we get the point: Apatow filmed tons of stuff, letting his actors ad-lib all over the place, and then sifted through all of that footage to put together two versions of the film, one for theaters and one for this DVD. If you’re a big fan of the movie, I can see the interest, but after a while, I got bored.
Moving along, we’ve got about 30 minutes of Apatow’s video diaries from the set; footage of Apatow’s kids doing their scenes; a look at the movie’s beard bet; a micro-featurette about a real gynecologist who was cast in the film, along with footage of his improvisations; another mockumentary, this one about a supposed sixth roommate; a video diary of filming the strip club scene; and 30 minutes of footage of other people playing the role of Ben, which is actually a pretty funny idea for a bonus feature.
Okay, deep breath and: More stuff with Loudon Wainwright, more ad-libs, additional gag reels, Jonah Hill’s amusing advice to Rogen about doing a sex scene, footage of Heigl’s audition, and, finally, another topless scene that isn’t what you think. Oh, and look in disc two’s language menu for an Easter egg that references “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
Wow, that was a lot of bonus materials. If you really love this movie, you’ll want to soak it all in. Personally, I enjoyed it, but I have to admit that some of it got repetitive after a while. In the digital age, though, there’s nothing wrong with archiving as much of this stuff as you can, even if you’re never going to watch it again. I guess you can have all of your friends come over to see a cool topless scene in a restaurant with Heigl and Rosen.