Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
This Is 40
Title: This Is 40
Well, Is It? Your mileage may vary. Happily, my own 40th did not include an endless series of sniping arguments with my wife.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two little blue pills out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Couple handles milestone birthday with all the dignity and aplomb of Juggalo gathering.
Tagline: "The sort-of sequel to Knocked Up."
Better Tagline: "Hey, remember that annoying couple in that Judd Apatow movie about the loser who got the hot chick pregnant? No? Well, we made a movie about them anyway."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Longtime married couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are both approaching their 40th birthday in different ways. Pete attempts to hide the fact that his record label is tanking, while Debbie tries to keep track of the various lies about her age she's told. In between, they occasionally try to parent their two daughters and reconcile with their respective failed fathers.
"Critical" Analysis" It isn't like there are no funny moments in This Is 40. Rudd is so effortlessly hilarious you can't dismiss anything he's in out of hand, and Albert Brooks -- who plays his dad Larry -- is perfect as the disappointing father no one wants (John Lithgow is less effective as Debbie dad, but he isn't given as much to work with). Other supporting cast members, like Girls' Lena Dunham and Chris O'Dowd (both playing employees of Pete's) come through, and Melissa McCarthy does what she can with a brief cameo, even if the best part of that is a post-credits outtake where she channels her Megan role from Bridesmaids.
But a handful of funny bits (and fair warning: the version I saw didn't include two scenes included in the most recent trailer) don't mask some fairly glaring problems. The largest of which is how much we really don't like the main characters. Remember the scene in Knocked Up where Debbie dragged Alison (Katherine Heigl) along to the house where she thought Pete was cheating on him, only to find out it's where he was having his fantasy baseball draft? They haven't changed. And while you might think watching two hours and 14 minutes of these misunderstandings and communication breakdowns would be humorous, you'd be wrong.
Yes, I know I confessed earlier to my man-love or Rudd, but both Pete and Debbie do inexplicably stupid things that don't make a lot of sense in the context of a long-standing relationship. Chief among these is Pete's hiding of his record label's dire straits (and his persistent habit of lending money to Dad) from Debbie, who apparently is unable to access their bank accounts online.
But Apatow appears to have veered into Tom Hanks territory when it comes to realistic depictions of money woes. Pete's label has yet to produce a breakout artist and the small fashion store Debbie owns is suffering from apparent embezzlement by one of her two workers (Megan Fox and Charlyne Yi). Yet somehow they still live in a two-story L.A. residence that is easily worth $2 million. I think I just solved your money problems, guys.
We should want to care about this couple, but we don't because they demonstrably don't like each other (unless they're stoned, there's a healthy marriage) and behave in a manner inconsistent with normal human beings. Also: Leslie Mann.
It's Apatow's movie, and he can what he wants, but his habit of repeatedly casting his wife (and now his kids) is wearing thin. Mann's Debbie is shrill and unsympathetic and I never once believed she even liked Pete, much less loved him. But hey, at least we get to see her doing more toilet scenes (see also The Change-Up). Indeed, Apatow's biggest revelation about marriage seems to be that couples get comfortable taking a dump around one another. Tee hee.
This Is 40 is in theaters today. Surely there are better ways to spend your holiday. Playing Words With Friends on the toilet, for example.
Get the Theater and Arts Newsletter
Exclusive discounts and announcements to Houston theater shows and art events