This Is 40 Movie Review
As a sort of sequel to 2007’s comedy KNOCKED UP, THIS IS 40 follows married couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) as they approach that dreaded middle age of 40. Tackling some tough issues within parenting and marriage, THIS IS 40 manages to keep things mostly light and funny (albeit a little raunchy) with the occasional unsuccessful dip into dramatic territory.
Pete and Debbie have two kids, teenager Sadie and younger child Charlotte (played by Apatow and Mann’s real life kids Maude Apatow and Iris Apatow). Pete is having trouble with his music label business, while Debbie is struggling with getting older. Both have no idea how to handle their teenage daughter and both have unresolved issues with their fathers. Debbie’s dad (John Lithgow) was never around and now has his own family, while Pete’s father (Albert Brooks) is a mooch always asking for money to help raise his new wife and triplet boys.
These are all side points to a film that is far more character driven than plot driven. Pete and Debbie probably have a bit more self awareness and sense of humor than most people, but their issues are very real and more importantly their characters are relatable. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are quite phenomenal bringing these characters to life. Their chemistry and ease together create a very identifiable and believable marriage. Not to mention, their comedic timing and ability to deliver straight lines with just the right amount of wry humor. Both actors are very funny separately but when brought together as a family unit they truly shine.
The same holds true for the film in general. When Pete and Debbie are dealing with their home life issues such as the use of viagra during sex, looking at the other’s hemorrhoids, spending too much time on the toilet as a way to escape, or how to raise their children, THIS IS 40 reaches new comedic heights in everyday issues that are rarely captured on film. The highlights are through their children, specifically their teenage daughter who is more like a teenager than most films portray because she is actually a good student. Her obsession for the television show Lost, embarrassment of her parents, and mental breakdown because she has nothing to wear are all identifiable without making her a bad kid. But the united struggle that Pete and Debbie go through to defend their daughter from being bullied on social media will have you guaranteed laughing out loud.
Producing ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY, writing WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY and directing THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, Judd Apatow clearly has a knack for comedy. Where he struggles sometimes is the blending of drama (FUNNY PEOPLE). It’s less of a problem here but still a problem. Pete and Debbie’s separate job issues are unnecessary subplots that only weakens the overall story and promotes undesirable actions from the characters. They could easily be cut from the already long run time of 134 minutes that all comedies should steer away from.
Thanks to a strong all-star cast and tackling real family issues with a cleverly comedic eye, THIS IS 40 stands alone as one of the funnier comic ventures of the year. Unfortunately, the long running time and unnecessary conventional dramatic missteps keeps the film from being one of the best.