This is 40

by Alan Rapp on December 21, 2012

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: This is 40
  • IMDB: link

this-is-40-posterThe latest from Judd Apatow is a very personal tale, and thinly-veiled comedic look at the writer/director’s own life (which casts his real-life family and is shot in their home). The film returns Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s real-life wife) in this sort of, but not really, sequel to Knocked Up. Set in between the weeks where both intrinsically selfish characters turn 40 years-old, the humor of This is 40 often rings true but doesn’t necessarily always produce big laughs.

Much like Apatow’s last film, Funny People, This is 40 meanders its way through its more than two-hour running time (nearly always a bad sign for a comedy) by exploring the everyday lives of its characters with, at times, the barest structure of a plot.

What Apatow does deliver is a frank (and at times amusing) slice of life snapshot, with moments of hilarity, between a couple both going through their own mid-life crises while dealing with the demands of their children (Iris ApatowMaude Apatow) and parents (Albert BrooksJohn Lithgow).

This is 40 works best when it stays with its four main characters and focuses on the little things which drive couples crazy about each other, and all the things which drive kids (and even 40 year-olds) crazy about their parents. Sadly, the film is weighed down with several supporting characters and subplots which go nowhere. Megan Fox and Charlyne Yi star as workers in Debbie’s (Mann) clothing store, one of whom she believes is stealing from her. Jason Segel is forgettable as Debbie’s life coach and trainer. And Graham Parker stars as himself in Pete’s (Rudd) ridiculous attempt to save his struggling indie label by putting out music no sane music producer, especially one facing imminent financial ruin, would believe anyone would buy.

How much you like Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd may well determine how long you can stand this comedy. I’ll admit, despite liking both actors separately I don’t particularly like the two of them as a couple. It doesn’t help with Apatow goes for big laughs with exaggerated situations we’ve seen done millions of times before such as uncomfortable trips to the doctor (complete with “funny” physicians during prostate and gynecological examinations), or a bizarre sequences seemingly taken out of a bad sitcom such as where Mann publicly fondles Megan Fox’s breasts for the better part of a minute.

This is 40

Although it’s also goes to far in one particular scene, the only subplot that really works is Paul and Debbie standing up for their daughter when a classmate (Ryan Lee) attacks her on Facebook. Debbie going ballistic on the kid is more uncomfortable and cruel than funny, but Paul standing up to the boy’s mother (Melissa McCarthy) provides two of the movie’s funniest sequences including a parent conference with the school’s principal (Joanne Baron) that nearly comes to blows.

Despite it’s cheesiness, I also enjoyed Pete speeding down the highway while screaming Meat Loaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” and stuffing his mouth with forbidden fast food in a fit of total rebellion against his wife’s wishes. The film also has a few clever one-liners like Debbie’s offhand comment about why she doesn’t worry about her husband spending time with someone as attractive as Megan Fox. I just wish the film felt more like the laugh riot the studio is marketing it as and a little less like a slightly funnier version of everyday life that overstays its welcome.

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