Remember Knocked Up? Yeah? Ok, now forget Seth Rogen and that annoying cast member of Grey’s Anatomy that he impregnated by accident and focus on that other couple – yeah the Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann couple that argued a lot. Didn’t you just think back in 2007, “damn, I’d love to see more of their life and relationship for over 2 hours” ? My review of Judd Apatow’s latest human drama epic, This is 40 after the jump.
It’s clearly been a few years since the events of Knocked Up – Pete (Paul Rudd) owns his own record label and Debbie (Leslie Mann) owns her own clothing store. Their daughters, Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow) are now older, and all in all they’re one big happy family. The snag? Debbie has just turned 40, and for her, this is unacceptable. In a quest to feel younger and live life to the fullest, Debbie lays down law regarding their health and well-being in an attempt to better all their lives – especially that of hers and Pete’s in the hopes to live longer and enjoy what “little” time she may have left.
In addition to the anxieties around aging, there is also possible financial troubles at Pete’s record label and Debbie’s suspicions of an employee stealing from the store. It’s a tough time, and their love and tolerance for each other is continuously tested – 40 has only just begun. Can they avoid bickering and accept new challenges as a married couple? How much does turning 40 really change life anyway?
I am a serious sucker for Judd Apatow directed films – he gets relationships right, the difficulties people go through in establishing or maintaining said relationships and even every day interactions with other people for that matter. The biggest criticism he receives as a director is his inability to make a film under 2 hours. Now if you’re one of the many who also has the same qualm, then steer clear because although This is 40 is not his longest picture to date, it definitely feels that way. This is my one real criticism of the film, and although it utilises a great, great amount of its 135 minute running time [and never boring], a good 15 – 20 minutes could have been cut.
I can safely say, others who share my appreciation of his films will not be disappointed in the slightest. Apatow knows how to create characters, and this can be seen here. Rather than being a couple who constantly bickers like how they were represented in Knocked Up, Debbie and Pete are well-rounded, fleshed out and ultimately loveable characters, that we want to spend time, smile and ultimately suffer with. This film makes us endure along with the characters, but as we care for them it doesn’t feel like a chore at all. The screenplay is great as always and Apatow’s direction hasn’t lost his touch, getting the best of his actors and just the right timing for each gag.
The performances as of course immaculate, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann giving some of the best performances of their careers, making every moment they’re in count. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow are wonderful as the father in-laws, whom of which one is too distant while the other is quite the contrary ( but I’ll let you see who is which for yourself). Chris O’Dowd as Pete’s work associate and Jason Segel as Debbie’s personal trainer also lend some comedic support, and as always bring it home. Hell, while we’re at it, if you can believe this, even Megan Fox turns in a good performance as Desi, the employee Debbie suspects is stealing from the store. However, this should come as no surprise whatsoever to those who know Apatow’s directing gifts.
Yes, it’s long and not everything works, but when you’re invested, you’re with it all to the very end. The laughs are incredibly consistent and don’t merely rely on punch lines (Apatow knows better). This isn’t his best work but thankfully he hasn’t lost his touch; in fact an improvement on his writing is noticeable as it’s very consistent and his characters have more depth than usual. Now if only he could just hire a damn editor…
As incredibly funny as it is heartfelt, This is 40 is a relatable film with people whose company you enjoy, even if it means being reminded of how painful and scary life really can be, whether you’re 4 or 40.
By Chris Elena
Director: Judd Apatow
Writer(s): Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Megan Fox
Runtime: 135 Minutes
Release Date(s): Australia: January 17, 2012; New Zealand: February 14, 2012; USA: December 14, 2012