Hello one and all, Robbie K here with another round of movie reviews. We start this triple threat off with the latest Judd Apatow film entitled This is 40. For those who have seen the trailer, this sort of sequel to the film Knocked Up focuses on the life of the previous films supporting characters Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann). No longer worried about her sister, Debbie’s concerns have now turned to turning the big 4-0. This midlife crisis leads to her questioning the foundry of her relationship with Pete, who also has to face his own problems on top of his emotional wife. What in the world is going to happen?
As many Judd Apatow fans know, the sky is essentially the limits when it comes to his portrayal of modern day life. This film is no exception as Judd has once again adds his ridiculous humor to the mix, finding ways to bring awkward situations to the big screen. From the very start, this small family is starts bickering about the most trivial things from episodes of Lost to what they are going to eat for dinner. These arguments consist mainly of three things that are consistently seen throughout the movie, slapstick dialog, lots of cursing, and well-timed awkward moments. For the dialog, Aptaow’s writing shines through as a plethora of sexual innuendos, penis references, and sarcastic jabs are jammed into the 2 and half hour time limit. Perhaps what made the dialog funny to me was the timing and delivery of the lines. Paul Rudd’s sarcasm was his biggest strength in this movie that somehow tied in his insults with an “I can’t believe you just said that” tone. Although he was a bum, Albert Brooks’s character was another character that was funny to me. His pathetic excuses to get money were incredibly absurd, yet his delivery and natural awkwardness made this pathetic nature humorous to watch. However, what had the character that had the audience laughing for most of the movie was Debbie. Somehow the high pitched squealing and constant whining/criticism had enough one liners to keep the room filled with laughter. If that doesn’t interest you, then her mannerisms will keep you entertained instead. Her fiery passion, willingness to speak her mind, and feisty attitude were a combination that kept her character spontaneous, fresh, and fun. While her characters normally annoy the heck out of me, this movie Debbie wasn’t that bad as she had other aspects that balanced her overreacting nature.
Comedy wasn’t the only strong point in this movie though. This is 40 also has some good morals and plot elements that will keep audiences into the movie. The issues both Pete and Debbie face are challenges that most people can relate to on some level. Many scenes show the challenges marriage can place on partners and the dilemmas that unfold when a healthy balance of communication and understanding are not lacking in the relationship. Despite Apatow’s crude approach, he does have a good way of teaching important lessons in a manner that isn’t overdramatic or cheesy. Characters in this movie don’t just magically wave their hands and solve their problems with a kiss. Instead they make mistakes, sulk/think about what could have gone better, and then actually find a way to address their issues and make amends. This realism is a big plus for me and I applaud Apatow for using these situations to develop his formerly shallow characters. Debbie in particular surprised me as her internal challenge to stay rational while keeping her passion drove the story to new places. Her struggles affected other character affecting their moods, which then led to their development that further strengthened the film. However, some of this realism is slightly stretched, especially when it comes to the characters go on cursing rants to little kids and other parents and no repercussions are seen. Yes this adds humor for a lot of people, but some of the audience were a little shocked or offended by this unleashed anger.
Let’s move on to a few things I didn’t like about the movie. For one thing, I still don’t like the overuse of the F word in movies. Sparingly it can be a master tool to get the perfect laugh or emotion out, yet Apatow still likes to integrate this word into almost every sentence, which grows stale for me after a while. Another big weakness for this reviewer was the character Sadie (Maude Apatow). Taking the place of her mother, Sadie becomes the unreasonable, emotional mess that Debbie made famous in knocked up. A majority of her lines were just screaming, tear filled rants that involved her yelling shut up about five times in a minute. While she did have a few acts that made me laugh, I grew tired of her teenage hormones about a half an hour into the film, slowly losing respect for the character as the time continued to pass. This brings me to my last big weakness, the time span of the movie. Two hours and fifteen minutes of emotional purging was a little too long for me. The post production editing had some scenes that could have been taken out or at least shortened to spare the audience from viewing some dragged out nonsense that was a waste of time.
This is 40 was surprisingly entertaining for me and I was very happy with the plot of this movie. The integration of comedy, story, and all of the stars was well balanced and the realistic approach to problems was a good message to all. Yet there are still some editing issues that need to be addressed to make the movie shorter and less stale. Is this movie worth a trip to the theater? For me probably not, unless it’s a date/girls night out, but do give it a try at some point. My scores for this film are below:
Movie Overall: 7.0-7.5