This Is 40: Movie Review
Cast: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, John Lithgow, Albert Brooks, Chris O'Dowd, Lena Dunham
Director: Judd Apatow
They say life begins at 40, and it certainly has an impact in this latest dramedy offering from Judd Apatow.
He returns to his characters, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) who we met in Knocked Up and who are hitting the big 40. With 2 kids, debt and a bit of a mid-life crisis, life is beginning to bite quite seriously.
Debbie is the first to hit 40 and is in straight denial, with her husband Pete's birthday just around the corner. But Pete's facing financial woes with his record label, as it's failing to bring in the money or any kind of success. Add to that, the fact Pete's dad is mooching money off them, the pressure is really on. Throw in the fact, Debbie suspects young Desi (Megan Fox) of stealing from her business, they're in trouble.
So, when Debbie decides it's time to turn their lives around, physically and spiritually, it causes ructions within the family unit - and they're stretched to the limit.
This Is 40 is thematically similar in many ways to Apatow's previous, Funny People - it brings a fair few recognisable laughs with its rambling, occasionally aimless, running time. (Though there isn't the noticeably jarring thematic tone half way through this latest)
Both Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are affable enough in their lead roles and will strike a few recognisable chords with many - from the frustrations of having children, negotiating sex lives, and managing expectations, there are plenty of moments where Apatow's script is on the money and certainly capable of generating a few unexpected laugh out loud segments as it exposes some of the psychoses and neuroses of relationships. Mann, in particular, deserves praise for fleshing out the foibles into something which feels real and relatable, rather than whiny and irritating. O'Dowd brings a few laughs - as does his Bridesmaids co-star Melissa McCarthy - and Megan Fox is simply along for the eye candy quota.
Yet, there are also times when you wonder if there was any sense of what was being created in the writers' room; a daughter's obsession with JJ Abrams' show Lost seems bizarrely shoved in, repeated many times and no reason ever given for it. Initially, John Lithgow's appearance as Debbie's father seems shoe horned in, ignored and then suddenly forms part of the denouement - it's these kinds of moments scattered throughout which contribute to the feeling of aimlessness and general narrative disparity which is present throughout the overlong, occasionally meandering, running time.
And despite all of that, there's a relevance and poignancy which will hit many in the audience - from the problems of the economic downturn to the desire to get back to what's important in your life, Apatow's certainly crafted together a story which has finally resolves itself by showing off the heart within. (Even if you do question whether they'd be able to fend off some of the money issues by selling one of their massive cars).
All in all, This is 40 is a mixed bag - you may at times struggle to care about such an affluent family's money issues given how they live, but you sure as hell will relate to the problems they have which are universal in nature, and in Apatow's hands, occasionally very damn funny.