Reviewed: This Is 40 (2012)

this-is-40-poster-new1 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.

Reviewed: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

walk-hard-the-dewey-cox-storyI’m a fan of music as well as a fan of comedy movies. Do I like films that parody the music scene? Hell yes. Those guys take themselves far too seriously and need a bit of a jab every now and then. But more importantly, it’s not the music itself that needs making fun of – just the culture surrounding it. Here are a handful of favourites that do it perfectly for me; Waynes World (1 & 2), Airheads, This Is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind (CB4 deserves a mention too).

A Mighty Wind came out in 2003 but after that, there is a bit of a gap in this subgenre. Movies being made about music were mostly Biopics and not really going out of their way to make us laugh (which I guess is fair enough) – things like Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix (just before he went all Borat on everyone’s asses – see: I’m Still Here) and it was this film that inspired the ridiculous stroke of genius that is Walk Hard.

On a whim, I threw this into the player the other day to give it another spin and found it to be just as good as the first time around.

Written by Judd Apatow & Jake Kasdan, this one stars John C. Reilly and a whole host of comedy greats (too numerous to mention here) dropping in for cameos to not only parody the life of Johnny Cash but other classic moments in modern music history too.

I could rattle off some of my favourite scenes but it’s really just one to sit down and enjoy without knowing too much about. As a bonus, you don’t really need to know your music history that well to get all the jokes as they’re silly enough to work without that inside knowledge.

If like me, you can’t get enough of John C. Reilly’s man-child bit, this is a must-see.walkhardpic11