THIS IS 40
By Gary Murray
Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Maude Apatow
Written and directed by Judd Apatow
Running time 134 min
Selig Film Rating Cable
Judd Apatow is the writer-director behind such hits as Knocked Up, The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Funny People. His latest is a continuation of two secondary characters from Knocked Up and is titled This is 40.
The film opens with a bang—literally. Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are having sex in the shower. He admits that he has taken Viagra to make the experience better and she is upset that they are a couple that needs chemicals to keep the sexual magic going. They have been together for a long time and the strains are beginning to show around the seams.
Soon we settle into the trite little story. Our mom and dad of the piece are fast upon approaching the big 4-0 and beginning to reassess their lives. Pete has started his own boutique record label that features such musicians as Nils Lofgren. He believes that this music is important but doesn’t seem to realize that music has changed. He is lost in dreams of his youth.
Debbie runs a clothes boutique. It is filled by a young sales staff and young patrons. Our heroine denies that she is turning 40, lying to even her doctors about her true age. She is lost in dreams of her youth.
The film, what little plot there is, concerns the plans for their birthday parties. The two kids (played by Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann’s real life progeny) are self-centered to the point where they do not see their parents struggle. They are much more concerned with watching Lost and losing Wi-fi access than what is going on in their own home.
Judd Apatow fleshed-out the screenplay with another generation of the family. Pete’s dad (Albert Brooks) is a struggling curtain salesman with a trio of little tykes from a new marriage. He has no problems hitting up his son for cash. Debbie’s father (John Lithgow) is a standoffish doctor who hasn’t seen his grandkids in years. Everybody knows that a confrontation will be in the mix before the end of the picture.
Both of our characters are trying to break addictions. Debbie wants to quick smoking and Pete needs to quit junk-food. One of the things that distract them is oral sex. This brings about one of the big comedy set pieces in the work. They do the dirty deed as their kids bang on the door. The film is both scathing and scatological without ever being witty or cleaver.
This is 40 is a big huge mess of a film. I believe that was the intent of Judd Apatow. Life is not easy or pretty but a struggle with highs and lows. He tries to mimic the truth that is life but fails to realize that film is not truth and story is not reality.
But Leslie Mann sparkles above the material and finds a beat here and there to shine. The most honest part of the film is when she is out with co-worker Megan Fox and a hockey player hits on the ‘older woman’. She is not going to cheat on her husband but wants to know that she can still turn a few heads at middle age. It is the single true note of the entire work.
Speaking of Megan Fox, yes she is in the film but if one sees the commercial, they have seen about 90% of her screen time. Seeing the film then seeing the ads makes one wonder if they are hedging the box office bet by showing the young actress in a little bikini. It is much ado about nothing.
I loved 40 Year-Old Virgin and thought that both Knocked Up and Funny People were decent flicks with a few outstanding moments but This is 40 does not stand up with any earlier work. If it were not for the pedigree, it probably would have been a straight to video release.