I’m getting old. Not 40 old, but old enough to see a movie called This Is 40 and think; “that sounds like it would be quite interesting”. Actually, that’s not true. I mean, I am getting old but I didn’t think that at all. I heard the title, read what it was about and thought “bleurgh, that sounds like a horrible idea.” But being the adventurous guy that I am, put my faith in the holy Hollywood saviour of comedy (Mr Apatow) and I’m happy to say that he’s delivered once again.
Judd Apatow started out in TV; writing and directing a handful of the many actors you see time and again in his projects. His first film The 40 Year Old Virgin was a super hit. Every other film he’s made has been hugely successful with exception to Funny People (his love letter to stand-up) and if that’s not enough, his list of writing and producing credits on movies that have ranged from tolerable to brilliant is huge.
This Is 40 is billed as the sort-of-sequel to Knocked Up as it follows the story of the peripheral characters Pete and Debbie (the married couple in Knocked Up). What’s great about this film is it’s a return to the warmth of the flawed characters that made Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin great (and really what Funny People not so much lacked but chose not to focus on). It’s a story about a family that are by outward appearance, happy and on top of things.
Pete and Debbie both work their dream jobs but money isn’t flowing as well as it should due to Pete’s record business not being what he hoped it would be. Extra financial pressure is added due to his father (now remarried with triplets) who he can’t say no to when asked to lend a hand in the cash department. The film perfectly illustrates the family politics that can arise when money becomes an issue (quite timely considering the current state of the US economy and beyond).
Leslie Mann (Debbie) is Apatow’s real life partner and the kids in the film are their own as well. There is a wonderful and real chemistry that can’t be faked between them that really adds to you caring about them as characters on screen. Paul Rudd (Pete) is the loveable ass who makes all the wrong decisions and is pretty much solely responsible for all the strife that arises.
Like Apatow’s previous efforts, the movie is longer than it needs to be as he likes to keep all the juicy ad-libs and extraneous takes, relishing in his actors “playing” with their characters. The humour is quite crude at times (an Apatow trademark) but it works because it feels so real and relatable.
It’s a good-un. Check it out.