This is 40 (2012)
This is 40 (2012)

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 2 hrs. 14 min.

Release Date: December 21st, 2012 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Judd Apatow Actors: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Albert Brooks

 


 

F

or Debbie (Leslie Mann), turning forty years old is a nightmare. Her husband Pete (Paul Rudd) is more optimistic, finding his first use of Viagra to be thrilling instead of compensatory for a dwindling sex drive or his wife’s questionably diminishing attractiveness. Debbie can’t even bring herself to admit her age, instead insisting that Pete bring balloons and candles that state 38. A week later is his birthday, which the couple tries not to fuss about; but it will inevitably have a significant impact on their relationship.

Pete owns the company Unfiltered Records and is struggling to market a new album for aging musician Graham Parker (played by himself) who, although not without fans, was most popular in the ‘70s. The company is underperforming to the point that his business manager suggests selling their house. Debbie owns a small clothing company that is consistently breaking even, quite possibly because her best employee Desi (Megan Fox) is robbing their income. Their relationships with their parents are perhaps unfortunately average (or averagely dysfunctional), being distant and assiduously occupied with the offspring still under their roofs. Pete’s father Larry (Albert Brooks) is content mooching money (around $80,000 in just two years) from his son and complaining about high blood pressure rather than finding work. Debbie’s estranged biological father (John Lithgow) has never been introduced to his grandkids, and hasn’t visited his daughter for nearly seven years.

Director Judd Apatow has authored a reputation for raunchiness and crass dialogue, creating certain expectations for his films. Here, he carries that over most memorably to his own children. They’re a moderately appealing addition, reciting rehearsed lines a little more naturally than one might expect, especially for the character of Sadie (played by older sister Maude Apatow). Some of the skits they perform together feel so spontaneous they were likely included after the director witnessed the duo interacting at home. These bits are of the more fun-loving variety; the majority of the film is focused on attempting to pull laughs from increasingly uncomfortable situations. Debbie and Pete fight continually and oftentimes in front of large groups of friends and family, culminating in several frightfully awkward interchanges.

These people lead incredibly sarcastic, bickering lives. The minutia of their existences is under scrutiny with a cynical eye, although there’s still plenty of time for joyful rollicking at a mini vacation weekend at a hotel, random household activities, moments of standard child rearing, and music-narrated miscellany. What is lacking at first is a dedicated conflict – instead of immediately presenting a dominating predicament, “This is 40” takes several smaller impediments of marital happiness and lets them creep up slowly, building to a more colossal, angst-ridden third act.

While there’s humor to embellish the more serious elements of disgraceful aging and a marriage coming undone, it’s not enough to be overwhelmingly hilarious, resulting in a film that is significantly more drama than comedy. This is unfortunate considering the leads have proven themselves to be very funny in previous efforts, as well as in “Knocked Up,” the pseudo-precursor, which contained supporting roles for Debbie and Pete. An entire movie based on these two, while not entirely pointless, could just as easily have been completely unrelated. And with a running time of over two hours, there are an abundance of scenes that outstay their welcome – flatlining midway through seconds of apparent improvisation. All the while, many subplots are never resolved, two of which deal with finances and are so important to the logistics of the family reconciling that audiences may wonder how the film can stop on a happy note without addressing them.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10