Comedy-drama ‘This Is 40’ offers slice of life
Director Judd Apatow describes “This Is 40” as the
“sort-of-sequel to ‘Knocked Up.’”
It’s also only sort of a comedy, infusing laughs with day-in-the-life drama and coming across as one of the director’s most personal films to date.
Armed with an exceptionally likeable cast, Apatow’s (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”) latest is somewhat of an in-your-face reflective piece about love, family and growing older in the 21st century – both raunchily hilarious and (in typical Apatow style) sweetly poignant.
Pete (Paul Rudd, “I Love You, Man”) and Debbie (Leslie Mann, “Funny People”), the argumentative but obviously loving couple from Apatow’s hysterical “Knocked Up,” take the limelight in this quasi-sequel, which, for the record, does not feature Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl.
Apart from our protagonists, the only recurring characters are their precocious children, Sadie (Maude Apatow, “Knocked Up”) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow, “Funny People”), and Rogen buddies Jason (Jason Segel, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and Jodi (Charlyne Yi, “Paper Heart”) in considerably smaller roles.
As it’s billed, “This Is 40” is only a sequel by tagline, and that works for the better, offering viewers a degree of familiarity in an otherwise all new story.
With their 40th birthdays approaching in the same week, Pete and Debbie are facing the landmark age in their own neurotic ways – both in denial, with Debbie insisting she’ll always be 38 and Pete with a degree of feigned nonchalance.
His self-owned independent record label is going under, and the only possibility of financial recovery is to sell their house – an unfortunate morsel of information he hides from Debbie for fear of her wrath. Hoping to avoid another argument, which has become all too common in their relationship, he desperately clings to the notion that the problem will resolve itself.
Debbie, however, is hoping to resolve some things herself. Fearing the “time goes faster with age” theory, she decides it’s high time for some serious life changes – for the entire family.
Everyone will eat healthy, they’ll reduce their dependence on technology – iPads, iPhones, iEverything – and they’ll all be happier for it.
“This Is 40” isn’t heavy on plot, as Apatow focuses primarily on story, presenting various vignettes that test his characters’ mettle. Pete and Debbie are dysfunctional, for sure, often choosing to ignore the problem at hand for the sake of perceived peace, but the pressure is building, and how they release it will undoubtedly affect the future of their marriage.
Perhaps the change they need isn’t one of dieting and forced “reconnecting,” but rather one of acknowledgment – of their problems, age and love for each other.
Apatow tackles some pretty heavy themes, but “This Is 40” packs in plenty of laugh-out-loud and surprisingly sweet moments.
Rudd and Mann share a perfect chemistry for an imperfect couple, while superb supporting performances from Albert Brooks (“Drive”) as Pete’s father and even, dare I say, Megan Fox (“Friends with Kids”) as Debbie’s boutique employee complement this well-rounded character piece.
Those expecting a “Knocked Up”-style comedy might be disappointed, but “This Is 40” stands well on its own, a slice of life from a director who, like his characters, are growing better with age.
“This is 40,” rated R for sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.