This is 40
Unless you are an anomaly like Benjamin Button, you’re going to get older. It is something none of us look forward to, at least once over 21, but all things considered, it’s better than the alternative. Thoughts somewhat alone these lines must have occurred in one form or another to filmmaker Judd Apatow.in 2007 he released a film that some would cite as the prototypical Apatow movie, ‘’Knocked Up’, a romantic comedy about a beautiful, successful young woman hooking up with a laid back, less than handsome gut while drunk and getting pregnant. Within the context of the film the unlikely parents are contrasted to an assortment of friends representing different paths their lives are no likely to take. One of these couples, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) embodied the traditional nuclear family; married with children. Five years later Apatow has decided to drop in on their lives again to discover how they are handling the approach of middle age. The resultant film, ‘ This is 40’ is as uneasily paced as the predecessor to this back handed sequel but also in a fashion similar to it, ‘ This is 40’ is not without its trademark Apatow quirky charm or off beat yet insightful flashes. In a certain sense the uneven nature does rather accurately depict the turmoil intrinsically part of this period of life. The thing is the same can pretty much be stated about any slice of life span which does negate much of the potential excuse factor.
As the movie opens Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd), are about to have sex. That is until Debbie finds out that Pet took a bootlegged Viagra obtained from his buddy, Barry (Rob Smigel). This sets the tone that will drive the underlying mood of the film. The couple has built a loving life together but they have diverged as is natural but the gender differences in perspective have become larger. Pete thought it demonstrated his love and desire for his wife while Debbie views it as he requires pharmacological assistance to get excited with her. They each wind up turning to their respective secret vices; Pete grabs a covet cupcake while Debbie sneaks off for a cigarette. It is Debbie’s 4oth birthday although the cake reads ‘Happy 38th’; she has a bit of issues with denial. In a contrived touch of coincidence Pete’s 40th follows within a week. They have the required couple of children; thirteen year old Sadie and eight year old Charlotte. The Apatow is not opposed to some nepotism getting SAG cards for his own daughters Maude and Iris respectively. Both parents have their own careers; Debbie has a boutique with a pair of employees; the gorgeous Desi (Fox) and the plain Jodi (Charlyne Yi). Pete has left his position as an executive with Sony to open his own label also with a pair of employees; Cat (Lena Dunham) and Ronnie (Chris O'Dowd). Both businesses are in financial trouble. Pete’s label signs a rock star from the eighties whose fame has fleeted and over $10,000 is missing at the boutique.
Deciding to take a break to celebrate Pete’s 40th they have a hotel resort weekend where, thanks to the mood altering effectives of a medicinal marihuana cookie they get toasted and laughing fantasies about how they would murder each other. This is one of those moments mentioned above that exhibits the dichotomy of middle age; they still love each other a lot but dislikes the complacency of their marriage. The financial woes mount as a result of Pete’s dad, Larry (Albert Brooks). He wants to continue the life style he thinks he deserves albeit without putting any effort into it. This includes maintaining his trophy wife. To make these extravagant ends meet Larry has already received $80,000 from his son and is showing no signs of stopping. Life continues to pile up on the lamentable pair as Debbie discovers from her OBGYN they are expecting their third child. As trips to the principal’s office demonstrate they can barely cope with the two the already have. Melissa McCarthy) is featured prominently in the marketing and cover art although she does not play a critical character. While this former resident of Star’s Hollow is one of the funniest women on TV and movies her contribution is limited to a single segment. When Debbie goes off on M McCarthy’s son after being told she’s pregnant the parents are called into the principal’s office where McCarthy is pushed to the point of a hysterical fit of foul language. The movie is easy to watch in large part due to its episodic construction. If a section doesn’t work for you wait a few minutes and another will come around. In this way it does resemble the venerable grandfather of sketch comedy, Saturday Night Live, in this regard; hit or miss in rapid succession. Also underutilized are another couple of considerable talents. John Lithgow shows up as Oliver, Debbie’s father, a doctor.at Pete’s birthday party it is disclosed that his life is far from perfect.
Apatow is a notable filmmaker with an eclectic style perhaps more conducive to the medium of television. ‘Freaks and Geeks’ and its unofficial sequel, ‘Undeclared’ were undeniably brilliant, launching the careers of a generation of talented people. Herein lays the core of the criticism that is applied to many of his cinematic works. Apatow is exceptionally perceptive with his comedic insight into the human condition. His approach is ideal in short bursts that are suited to telling an ongoing story related in one episode followed by another. This is reflected in his style as a filmmaker exemplified here. At 134 minutes, extended to 137 for the unrated version, the film meanders too much belaboring the points it is trying to make. The shame is those points are at times poignant. Pete and Debbie manage to get past the trials and tribulations inherent in hitting the milestone of forty with their lives and relationship intact. Actually a modicum of Deus ex machine is brought in to the mix with a conclusion that wraps all the problems up in a nice, hopeful package complete with a bow. It negates the basis of much of the premise and a substantial portion of the humor; laugh through what life tosses your way.