This is 40
They Like Each Other, They Like Each Other Not

This is 40 is being advertised as the “sort-of sequel to Knocked Up.”  That Judd Apatow-directed movie told the story of an unexpected pair of parents-to-be as they faced the consequences of their one night stand.  Pete and Debbie were two of the supporting characters in that movie and now Apatow has decided to give them their own movie that focuses on the relationship between these two people who both turn forty in the same week.  If nothing else, This is 40 works as a solid showcase for the acting talents of Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann.

Opening with Debbie’s subdued, immediate-family-only party that she insists is for her 38th birthday (it’s not) and ending with Pete’s everyone-who-has-appeared-in-this-entire-movie-is-invited party, This is 40 explores the ups and downs of a couple who has been married for about a decade and half.  That means that there are a lot of happy moments; moments that make it immediately clear just how much fun these two have with each other.  That also means, however, that there are a lot of moments that involve some pretty intense shouting matches and some horrible things said by both parties involved.

Leslie Mann as Debbie in This is 40As a viewer of this roller coaster ride, my opinion of this movie is pretty much split right down the middle.  On the one hand, there are a lot of wonderful comic moments in this movie; visual gags, jokes, and lines of dialogue that will easily have most of the audience laughing out loud.   On the other hand, there are some ear-piercing shouting matches that can be very hard to watch and I just don’t know if I was invested enough in the characters to tolerate their arguments when I came to the theater with the intention of simply being entertained.

There are also not enough turns in this roller coaster.  Ever gone on a roller coaster that just goes up and down, up and down, without ever going left and right?  Feels pretty repetitive after awhile, right?  You need a few sharp turns every now and then, whipping your head around in all sorts of directions.  Without enough plot turns to keep it interesting, This is 40 does starts to feel repetitive after awhile.  They love each other, they hate each other, they love each other, they hate each other, etc.

It’s also far too long of a ride.  Going in, I mentioned that I felt a movie like this should probably run about an hour and forty minutes (100 minutes), but knowing Judd Apatow it would probably run a full two hours (120 minutes).  In the end, the movie ran a full 134 minutes.  Unlike most Apatow movies that are filled with lengthy scenes in which the director let the scene run long in hopes his actors would hit on a good improvisational gag, few individual scenes of This is 40 seem to go on too long.  It’s more that the movie just stretches its ride one up and down too long and the movie probably could have ended after the second-to-last fight and make-up.

Although the lengthy running time and unappealing shouting matches may keep This is 40 from becoming one of those comedies that you watch again and again, there is more than enough funny stuff to make it worth watching once.  Paul Rudd continues to be one of this writer’s favorite comic actors and Melissa McCarthy has one great scene that is expanded on during the closing credits, so don’t leave early. Meanwhile, Mann and Apatow’s real-life kids Maude and Iris Apatow are responsible for many of the movie’s best moments.

Speaking of Leslie Mann, this is really her movie.  Often cast in the supporting role of the best friend or the sister of the main character, this movie finally offers the actress a chance at the lead and she does very well with it.  Some of her best scenes are the quieter ones that come near the end.

Those who don’t mind watching people aggressively argue will likely find more to like in This is 40, but the many laugh-out-loud moments spread throughout the movie will have to be enough to satisfy the rest of us.

This is 40 is rated R for “sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material.”  Lots of language, nudity, and suggestive sexual content make the rating appropriate.

Courtesy of a local publicist, Jeff attended a promotional screening of This is 40.