“This is 40”, a sequel of sorts from Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” focusing on Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) and their two daughters (played by Apatow and Mann’s real life daughters Maude and Iris). That’s about the entire plot including the spoiler in the film’s title: Debbie and Pete turn 40. This is their life.
Mortgages, dramatic teenagers, attempts to keep the romance alive when the bathroom has an All Access Pass, “Lost”, business issues, trying to become a healthier you, the film is a reflection of Judd Apatow’s life and society , otherwise known as #firstworldproblems. But working with his wife and two daughters, this is a subject matter he knows well, they don’t always go down the cliché path and at times it is a refreshingly honest movie.
Apatow has been criticised in the past for representing female leads as shrill and unfunny, while the guys are all laid back and cool, and while Debbie certainly embodies this notion at the beginning of the film, she goes about trying to make her life work better with such vigour you can’t help but admire it, and about the time she compares a teenage boy involved with her daughter to Tom Petty “in a negative way”, she’s turned the corner to completely likeable.
There are no shortage of great comedic talents (and Megan Fox) playing supportive characters, and in particular Melissa McCarthy’s brief role as the mother of the Tom Petty lookalike, and Albert Brooks as Pete’s mooching father steal every scene that they’re in.
Pete and Debbie eventually grow up and start dealing with their issues by the end of the film, but as with every Apatow film, it is way too long at 134 minutes. If Batman can lose all his money, have his back broken and then heal completely, land Catwoman, take on multiple villains and save the world from a nuclear explosion in only an extra 30 minutes, they really probably could have sorted their marriage and money stuff sooner. I know the improv style of filming means they have so much material to work with, but in the future I would really like to see a “Viewer’s Cut” as opposed to “Director’s Cut” of these types of films; someone who isn’t emotionally invested in the production who can cut the fat with the sharpness of a guillotine. It increases the re-watchability factor considerably.
“This is 40” is an enjoyable movie, and no doubt its target audience will identify with a lot of issues Debbie and Pete face. Some great comedic performances, Maude and Iris Apatow are lovely and natural in front of the camera, and it is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Or 134 minutes.