In 2007 Director Judd Apatow released a film called "Knocked Up". "Knocked Up" was, at often times a hilarious and refreshing look at the rigors of courtship and child-rearing. As is much the case these days, its script was rife with raunchy and crude humor; yet savvy enough to take the time necessary to bring to the screen moments of heartfelt clarity to its characters. It was ably acted and directed even more so. Now five years later, Apatow returns to this world of family congeniality in hopes to produce another sure fire comedy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t succeed on all fronts.
It’s no longer in its runtime than "Knocked Up" was, but due to its slow pacing and lack of momentum "This Is 40" feels like it goes on forever. For some, their love of the characters and familiarity with the situational humor of the material won’t mind the runtime; but for others it will feel like a slog. The comedy present in the film isn’t quite as much a double edged sword thankfully. It’s hard to say what specific age group the film’s humor is geared towards, but oddly enough it would seem to suit both young adults and those who have come to the age of 40 and surpassed it.
"This Is 40" refocuses its lens’ upon the family put forward in 2007 played by actors Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. It is an important point to make to say that Leslie Mann and Actresses Iris and Maude Apatow are all related. As you may have guessed, Iris and Maude are daughters to Director Judd Apatow and Leslie gets to play to the tune of wife both onscreen and off screen. Rudd and Mann play slightly older versions of their characters from "Knocked Up", as they’re both fast approaching the cusp of 40 years old.
For the most part and what I loved most about this film, is its honesty. The subject matter of "This Is 40", while familiar, is entirely situational and for the most part gag free. The comedy rests entirely on the shoulders of its remarkably talented cast of actors and comes from closely observed characterizations written by Apatow. Rudd and Mann are both completely lovable to watch onscreen together. Their chemistry unfolds perfectly and it feels as though we’re seeing their lives through a window instead of a film.
John Lithgow and Albert Brooks make here and there appearances in the film, along with Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd, and Megan Fox. Brooks and Lithgow play the roles of Grandfather. Lithgow the father of Mann’s character Debbie, and Brooks the mooch father of Rudd’s Pete. Their parts are well-written and equally likeable to those of Mann and Rudd. Wonderfully watchable are Maude and Iris Apatow as Pete and Debbie’s kids, 13-year-old Sadie and her much younger sister, Charlotte. Megan Fox also has a funny, and even self-aware turn as a lusty saleswoman at the dress shop that Debbie owns.
Otherwise, the movie is carried on the backs of its talented cast; the story chugs along on predictable fuel. Nothing new here, it consists of: Pete and Debbie’s financial troubles, their lacking sex life, and parenting headaches. There’s no real crisis present in "This Is 40", let alone one serious conflict at the end, and even then its not that bad. "This Is 40" is good enough at what it is trying to be. More often than not, it is funny and delightful when compared with "Knocked Up". It is able to strike a smart balance between the humor young audiences expect and the kind older audiences wish for. In the end, I believe "This Is 40" to be a good-faith effort at a wry and realistic relationship comedy on the part of Apatow. For the most part I think he succeeds.