It’s time to crank up the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, imbibe in your favorite – LEGAL – activity, and start the baby making. In this week’s Commentary Commentary, we’re hitting up one of the best comedies of the past 10 years, Knocked Up. Aside from being one of the dozen films that have made Judd Apatow a vigintillionaire, apart from being the film that landed Seth Rogen on the A-list, the movie is just damned funny. Heart-warming, of course. What would an Apatow movie be without heart? Well, it would probably be You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, but we’re not even going to mention that abomination here. Just ignore that previous utterance of the title.
Anyway, back to Knocked Up, Apatow has amassed a solid line-up for his commentary track. Rogen and co-star Bill Hader are on board to deliver their own stories and insight into the making of the film. Something tells me the commenting under the influence didn’t stop with last week’s movie. That Rogen sure likes to partake. He’s always stoned. And funny. Mostly funny. But one might have a hand in the other. So here’s what we learned from the commentary track to Knocked Up. Cue the ODB!
Knocked Up (2007)
Commentators: Judd Apatow (writer, director, money maker), Seth Rogen (executive producer, actor), Bill Hader (actor), a slew of annoying impressions.
- The first thing the three talk about is the idea of the audio commentary. “What’s in a real audio commentary?” asks Rogen. “Should we be talking about this, or have we already messed it up?” Apatow mentions he doesn’t know anything about lenses or cameras, but he can explain all the marijuana smoked in the film was fake. Riiiiiiiiiight. Rogen does mention there is a picture somewhere in the film of himself at 14-years-old, fish bowl on his head, smoking marijuana. Hader notes it’s good that he’s moved on from that. “What was I thinking?” asks Rogen.
- The roller coaster sequence in the opening credits was part of a documentary made while filming Knocked Up as part of Apatow and the crew manipulating Jay Baruchel into riding. The actor suffers from panic attacks and didn’t want to go on the ride, but Judd didn’t care. Baruchel did have a panic attack while riding, and the other actors threw up.
- Apatow wanted to have Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete’s (Paul Rudd) family to have a natural, familial dynamic, so he cast his daughters as their daughters. Most of what the girls say in the film (ie “Googling murder”) were real conversations his daughters were having. Apparently his daughter had also Googled “penis” and “vagina.” “I shut the whole computer system down at that point,” says Apatow. “Judd’s Amish now,” remarks Rogen.
- The idea of the “dirty man competition” came from a contest Seth Rogen would have with writing partner Evan Goldberg. “It’s basically an excuse to justify why no woman wants to talk to you,” says Rogen. The rules are you can’t shave or cut your hair, and whoever does first loses. This was part of Apatow’s pre-production with the cast, as he asked them about “Jackass” things they did to each other. They initially planned to put Jay Baruchel in a Vanilla Ice-like hairstyle, and the competition would have been Martin Starr having to grow his beard and Jay having to stay looking like Vanilla Ice.
- Ryan Seacrest wasn’t initially going to be in the movie. Apatow and crew visited the E! News set one day to see how things worked and noticed the occupied Seacrest continuously trying to leave, pissed off that someone was late. They found this so funny that they worked it into the film.
- The scene with Rogen and his friends at the bar was the first scene to be shot. The conversation about Munich was completely improvised. According to Apatow, Steven Spielberg saw this movie and was evidently very amused by the idea that Munich can get Jewish people laid.
- According to Apatow, Leslie Mann goes out dancing without him all the time. For preparation to see how people act drunk in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Rogen videotaped her one night as she was out drinking. Apatow says Rogen told him the hardest part of that night was not making out with her. Rogen mentions it was hard, he was just scared that it might happen.
- 13:02 – Apatow says Peter Falk walked in the room. Cue Hader’s Falk impression talking about Knocked Up. That’s all well and good, but I realized during this commentary that impressions have no place in audio commentaries. Much of what makes an impression funny is seeing the person’s mannerisms as they do it. Unfortunately this isn’t the last time this happens in the commentary.
- During filming the sex scene between Rogen and Katherine Heigl, Apatow announced that no one would be allowed on set. Hader didn’t hear this announcement and walked in through the back entrance. This was also evidently the day Rogen met David Gordon Green for the first time. Apatow asks Rogen how he felt going into the scene. Rogen mentions they weren’t planned to shoot that scene on the day they shot it, but scheduling forced a rearrangement of scenes. “I tried not to sweat on her. That was pretty much goal #1,” says Rogen.
- 16:43 – Apatow announces Al Pacino has walked in. Hoo-ha. It is funny when Hader as Pacino is talking about movie he did sex scenes in and mentions Stanley & Iris. “I thought that was De Niro,” says Apatow. “You’re right. It is,” remarks Hader as Pacino.
- According to Apatow the awkward scene between Rogen and Heigl at the diner is how he feels most of the time with his wife, Leslie Mann. He mentions that this scene is “like breakfast at my house” and that he feels like he and Mann are always on a first date where she’ll go to the bathroom halfway through and jump out. Apatow then goes into a story where his mother set him on a date with a waitress who said that her friend’s dad was really sick. She said she had to check in and see how he was doing and near the end of the date the father got “really sick” and she had to leave. Apatow kept checking in with her to see how her friend’s dad was, but she never responded. “She was clearly busy with the illness,” says Apatow. Finally, the waitress’ friend answered him and yelled, “She doesn’t want to talk to you.” “How do you heal from that?” asks Apatow. “You make a bunch of movies about nerds winning,” responds Rogen.
- 21:21 – Apatow asks Peter O’Toole a question, and I check out for about three minutes.
- During the James Franco scene, Apatow and Rogen mention how funny he is in the “upcoming” Pineapple Express and that comedy isn’t a path Franco has really chosen. Apatow asks Rogen what Franco says when he asks him about it. “He says, ‘I’m in the middle of Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil.’,” Rogen answers.
- Bill Hader, who plays an editor in Knocked Up, was actually a TV editor in that same building and had actually worked on E! shows prior to becoming an actor. A quick IMDB check shows he was also a PA on The Scorpion King. Bill Hader and The Rock on the same set? Imagine that arm wrestling contest for a moment. Then come back to the commentary. I’m sure there’s a witty impression coming up in 3…2…
- 27:50 – Michael Richards, and not even the offensive variety.
- Rogen would oftentimes become amused by the shocked looks Heigl would give him. Many of the early scenes in Knocked Up were shot early in the film’s shooting so the awkwardness between them would be captured. For the scene where Heigl tells him she is pregnant, Apatow was shooting them both at the same time to capture real reaction shots to what is being said.
- At the premiere for Knocked Up, Tobey Maguire was sitting behind Rogen. During the scene where Heigl tells him she is pregnant, Rogen heard Maguire mutter under his breath, “What an asshole.” Likewise, according to Rogen, Maguire is very vocal when he’s watching a move in the theater. Imagine seeing a horror movie with Tobey Maguire. “Don’t go in there. Don’t go in there. The killer’s in there! Oh, shit!” Apparently Maguire also didn’t laugh at the Spider-Man 3 jokes. And why would he? We were all sad about that situation.
- 35:21 – Apatow mentions he just handed Hader a piece of paper asking him what other impressions he does. Hader responded none. Thank God. But wait. Apatow, that sneaky bastard, then excuses Hader and thanks Vincent Price for filling in. Again I check out for a few minutes. Al Pacino comes back at some point when Apatow is asking different characters Hader does where they stand on abortion.
- That conversation leads into Apatow talking about his own views on abortion, whether Knocked Up is an anti-abortion movie. He notes if she did get an abortion the movie would have been much shorter. “I always wondered do people who make…are the guys who made Ocean’s 13 pro-bank robbing?” asks Rogen. This goes into them asking if Steven Soderbergh is pro-space station since he made Solaris, what Rogen refers to as a “hot button debate.” “Is Harold Ramis pro-dispensing of ghosts? Those are people’s dead loved ones, and he’s busting them,” continues Rogen, evidently finding a topic he can riff on for another five minutes without actually talking about his own movie.
- According to Apatow, he and Rogen were at a film festival in Deauville, France, when they saw Harold Ramis from afar. Never having met the man, they decided to begin stalking him to pass the time. They followed him to his hotel and called up his room before finally meeting the man.
- Apatow sees the phone conversation between Ben and Alison when they decide to have the child as the turning point of the movie. He believes Alison decides to have the baby for a few reasons. One, she sees the baby’s heartbeat, but she also decides to have the baby as an act of rebellion against her “bitchy” mother. But this scene is also important, because it is the first one where we realize Alison could actually begin to like Ben for who he is. Rogen remembers the only direction Apatow gave him for this scene was to not hold the phone up to his ear, only to talk into it. “It instantly makes me seem like a much more interesting actor than I actually am,” says Rogen.
- Leslie Mann realized early on working with Paul Rudd that the way he argues in real life would drive her crazy. Rudd has a habit of making a flippant joke to break any tension, and this quickly got on her nerves. Apatow realized very quickly the two would be perfect as an on-screen couple for this reason.
- For the scene where Ben has breakfast with Alison’s sister’s family, Apatow set the scene up completely before bringing his kids in. They sat at the table, and Apatow shot all of their reaction shots first building the rest of the scene with the other actors around what they got. If you watch Apatow’s younger daughter, Iris, she never even looks at the actors. She’s fascinated by the food. Apatow mentions he hadn’t fed her before shooting this scene for that very reason. “That’s how they get Shamu to do flips,” remarks Rogen. Also if you look in one particular shot, Iris is looking down at the table frowning. According to Apatow, whenever anyone laughs around her, she gets upset, since she thinks they’re laughing at her. This shot was one such reaction. “And I laugh all the time,” says Rogen, “which is why Iris hates me more than maybe anyone ever.”
- At 1:02:21 Apatow asks Hader how much he spent on his engagement ring. Granted, it’s during the scene where Ben is asking Alison to marry him, but seriously? Why do I care how much Bill Hader spent on an engagement ring? Oh, also, it was pretty much here where I realized the next hour of this film’s commentary track was going to be excruciating. FYI, Hader spent $3000 on a band. The stone was his mother’s. Apatow spent $5000 on his engagement ring. He mentions his wife was upset with him, because he then spent $5500 on memorabilia and autographs. I know. I don’t care. I don’t think you care, but Apatow felt this information was necessary.
- 1:04:16 – the bombshell announcement of the entire Knocked Up commentary track is revealed. Apatow asks Rogen if he’s made any compromises in the relationship he was currently in – no word on if this was Rogen’s would-be wife, Lauren Miller – to which Rogen responds, “Well I’ve quit smoking.” And the whole world stopped a little. Hader mentions Rogen quitting smoking has created a ripple effect of all of his friends, Hader and Jason Segel included, quitting smoking. So, there you have it. Seth Rogen is changing lives with his own abstinence. Oh, wait. He’s referring to cigarette smoking? Scratch all of that. As you were.
- According to Apatow, the fight scene between Mann and Rudd was shot twice, the more somber version we see in the finished film and a version where Mann rips Paul Rudd apart, screaming at him and calling him horrible names. Apatow felt it would work better if she were more subdued here and have Heigl use all the anger for her blow-up scene at Rogen immediately following. “You didn’t put that much thought into it,” says Rogen. “No, I didn’t,” responds Apatow.
- There was a debate on whether the baby would be a girl or a boy. It was decided they would have a girl, since the Loudon Wainwright III song “Daughter” worked so perfectly for the end of the film. There were also two different version of Ben and Alison’s blow-up scene at the gynecologist’s office, one where Ben yells, “It’s a girl. Buy some pink shit,” the version used in the final film, and another where he says it’s a boy. According to Apatow, the “boy” comment got lots of laughs while the “girl” comment disturbed some people.
- In the scene where Rudd and Rogen are talking about relationships, Apatow felt it necessary to name-check “Everybody Loves Raymond.” “Every issue I’m talking about has been done better on ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ at some point.” Rogen also brings up the fact that there was a period of time where every time he saw Apatow he was writing unsolicited scripts of episodes for the sitcom.
- During the red carpet scene, Apatow wanted to get a moment where Heigl cursed out Jennifer Garner who was pregnant at the time. Heigl’s character would yell at Garner, as Garner would be complaining about being pregnant and a huge verbal explosion would erupt between them. Garner said no, but Apatow and crew went to the red carpet, an actual red carpet for the MTV Movie Awards and got a lot of interviews with people who were actually there.
- 1:48:52 – We get a Bill Cosby impression. It’s been awhile since the last one, so I guess they’re due. I guess.
- Originally, a moment was included where Rogen revealed to the doctors that he hadn’t actually read the baby books. He had only read 12 pages and forgot half of it. However, Apatow felt this could hurt Rogen’s new-found likability with the audience, and the moment was cut.
- 1:55:54 – Al Pacino gets asked back in to discuss his own children. I thought we were in the clear. I thought it was a home stretch. I was wrong. It wasn’t the first time. It won’t be the last.
- At 2:01:51 Rogen says, “So this is what the commentary has come to? We’re just repeating the jokes the people are watching.” Someone should mention to Rogen this has been going on for the last two hours and almost two minutes. Of course, this is followed up by Apatow asking Al Pacino what it was like shooting Heat.
- To film the shot of the baby actually coming out, prosthetics had to be used. Apatow wanted to hire a woman who was going into labor to actually shot her giving birth. He found a woman who was willing, but the State Labor Board of California stepped in saying the baby would need a worker’s permit. Of course, a worker’s permit couldn’t be obtained until after the baby was born, so that plan was scrapped. So that’s a good message for all you unborn babies out there who want to join SAG.
- When Rogen comes out to announce to his friends what they had, if it was to be a boy, he would have shouted, “It’s got a dick!” Likewise Jay Baruchel said mazel tov so many times during this little scene that Apatow actually had to ADR some of them out. “I was like, ‘Don’t remind everyone there’s so many Jews in the movie at the end just when they forgot,’” says Apatow.
Best in Commentary
“That’s the meltdown of having kids. You realize if you don’t get your shit together, they’re gonna start imitating how fucked up you are, and then you have a meltdown, and then you get better.” – Judd Apatow
“I like the idea of people being on drugs as a way to get them to say things that are unspeakable.” – Judd Apatow
There really isn’t much insight to be gleamed from the Knocked Up commentary track. Instead you’ll get three friends just hanging out and discussing for over two hours real things in their lives that inspired this movie. There are also moments all the way throughout with all three riffing on a certain topic whether it has any bearing on the actual film or not. Some might find this entertaining, but I found it tedious and thoroughly uninteresting.
We hear Apatow ask Bill Hader if he would ever do a nude scene, how much each commentator cussed when they were a kid, are subject to Apatow scatting through a Steely Dan song, and all the real life moments in Apatow’s life that inspired particular scenes in the film. Did you know Seth Rogen has “literally” seen every episode of Lost? Well, here you have it.
Add in Apatow having Hader do ridiculous impressions, something that thankfully dies out before the halfway mark, and you’ve got a commentary track that annoys more than entertains, that grates rather than informs. Knocked Up is a funny movie. Seth Rogen and Bill Hader are funny actors. However, in this context, hearing them in their natural state and observing all of this from the outside looking in is nothing short of dull. Now I need a smoke. Too bad Seth Rogen won’t be joining me.