Review: THIS IS 40

By Laurie Coker

Rating: C+

As I watched This is 40, I knew my ex would love it. It contains the kind of humor (mostly trashy, potty humor) that he likes and he did indeed, love the film. Because of a funny cast with clear comic timing and some decent enough humor and jokes, I did enjoy several aspects of the story, and perhaps, too, because I’ve past my 40’s and know all too, well what growing up means. Starring Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, This is 40, isn’t the worst of its kind. In fact, it did have me laughing hysterically, although sometimes at the plain absurdity of it all.

Playing out as a sequel of sorts to Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, I film I didn’t care all that much for, This is 40, picks up on the life of Debbie (Mann) and Pete (Rudd) as they deal with the realities of being parents of older children, paying bills, attempting to keep the spark in their marriage burning and turning 40. On the cusp of Pete’s birthday, while he struggles to keep his company afloat, he and Debbie face the realities of life in middle class America, a father who is leachy, bratty children and other issues faced by most couples as their marriages fall into the doldrums of daily life.

Sprinkled amidst the trashy talk and tasteless gags, director Judd Apatow touches on some extremely personal, truthful aspects of adulthood (turning 40). Reprising their supporting roles from Knocked Up, Rudd and Mann demonstrate notable comic chemistry and impeccable timing, and often, writer/director Apatow gives them plenty with which to work – I found myself laughing in an all too knowing way at some aspects of their relationships and personal issues. On one hand they workout to keep healthy, and all the while she sneaks off to smoke and he sucks down cupcakes like a starving child. Their ideal looking life cracks under the strain of money problems in a shaky economy and any romantic efforts the couple works for encounter obstacles. Apatow has an ability to infuse humor into reality making it powerfully, painfully comical, even when it’s out and out vulgar.

Rudd and Mann are a pleasure to watch and because of them even the disgusting scenes – think rectal monitoring for hemorrhoids – garner chuckles – gross, but made funny by the film’s stars. The sometimes barb-ridden banter between them had me nearly rolling. I typically cringe and bash this type of humor, but Apatow manages to make the reality bigger than the raunchiness – at least in most aspects (not all). I wonder if he’ll let us meet Debbie and Pete when they hit the fifty mark. These stars could pull it off.

Bravo too to a terrific supporting cast, which includes the very, very inappropriate and extremely funny humor of Melissa McCarthy as a mother from hell, the deadpan, laughable John Lithgow as Debbie’s formerly absentee father, and the pricelessly annoying Albert Brooks as Pete’s dad, who mooches off his son to support his young wife and his bratty tow-headed triplets. Because of excellent casting and Apatow’s propensity for capturing the deeper aspects of relationships, I found it far easier than many to suffer the nasty goings-on riddle throughout. I got a huge kick out of the verbal sparring and silly situations Debbie and Pete fall into.

While I won’t rave like my ex about the R-rated This is 40, I think others are being far too critical of the film. Sure it isn’t for everyone and I couldn’t recommend it to say my father (or mother, may she rest in peace), I will recommend it (with fair warning) to friends, particularly those hitting the same bumps in life. I am placing a C+ in my grade book and sticking to it.

 

 

 

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