Tuesday, 18 December 2012

This Is 40

WRITTEN BY: Judd Apatow
DIRECTED BY: Judd Apatow
STARRING: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Megan Fox
RATING: 3 stars


I'm going to warn you now, like every other Judd Apatow film, This Is 40 suffers from being too long. I don't know how long film fans will have to whinge before Apatow employs someone to help him edit his films more effectively. Like his other comedy/dramas (Knocked Up and Funny People) This Is 40 is an enjoyable film and strikes a good balance between believable real life humour and every day dramas. It's just unnecessarily long. About 100 minutes into the film I was feeling fulfilled with the story and thinking Apatow may start to uncharacteristically wrap things up so the film may be a more standard length. Instead, he introduced a spanner in the works that dragged the story out further. This Is 40 is one of the better Apatow films, but it still has it flaws.

This Is 40 sees the return of peripheral Knocked Up characters Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) as they struggle with turning 40 and raising two children. Debbie refuses to admit she is aging, while Pete is distracted with trying to make enough money working in a self-indulgent job that is getting him nowhere. The family is facing bankruptcy but Pete doesn't want Debbie to know. Meanwhile, they deal with every day dramas with their children Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow) who are constantly fighting with each other.

What makes the film so enjoyable is its cast. Rudd is so lovable in his own goofy and quirky kind of way. He's the kind of actor who is attractive enough to be a leading man but then he makes a fart joke and you realise he's far more comfortable making audiences laugh at and with him. Mann is also impressive and seems to feel most at ease and perhaps most like herself in this film. But the stand out performers are Mann and Apatow's children, Maude and Iris, who obviously enjoyed acting with their mother and even getting to argue with her on screen. They are very funny and entertaining to watch. Melissa McCarthy also has a small but memorable role as a parent of another child at the school. Be sure to watch the credits for some great improvisation from her. Jason Segel is also very funny as Debbie's personal trainer, while Megan Fox spends most of her time prancing around and being sexy. I'm fairly certain that is all she is capable of doing as an actress and she should probably just stick to roles like this. John Lithgow and Albert Brooks are also good, playing two very different types of fathers-in-law. For all its length though, the film didn't have enough of Chris O'Dowd who is always a delight to watch.

The main issue I think many people will have with the film, other than the length, is that the characters are only mildly likeable and are often a little annoying. Debbie is a nagging wife and acts like she's in high school at times, often sneaking off for a secret cigarette break. Pete is also not very "grown-up" for an adult. You have to wonder at times how this couple managed to raise two children and have a happy marriage for so many years when they fight so much and seem to hardly know each other in some scenes, like when they debate music tastes. Surely that debate happened years earlier in their relationship? Having said that, there is some very good dialogue and witty moments that remind you of how clever Apatow can be. It is these moments that save the film from being a disaster.

Fans of Apatow's previous work will probably enjoy This Is 40. Everyone else will probably be too busy dealing with their own lives to want to bother being sucked into the lives of Pete and Debbie.

 


 

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