Director/Writer: Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Chris Dowd
I will take a Paul Rudd movie any day of the week, especially in a script by David Wain or Judd Apatow. This is 40 is a sort of-sequel to Apatow's previous movie, Knocked Up. Rudd and Leslie Mann revisit those characters as the story centers on their marriage this time around. Debbie (Mann) is celebrating her 40th birthday but she really is pretending it is her 38th birthday. She struggles with this concept and refuses to start feeling older or doing things that older women do like shopping at Ann Taylor Loft. Pete (Rudd) is also turning 40 that week but does not seem to care in the slightest bit. The upcoming birthday party is ONLY for him and not the both of them.
They do not have a perfect marriage, but I would not consider it a miserable or bad marriage. The looming idea of being 40 really brings out their troubled areas to Debbie and Pete. Their daughters Sadie and Charlotte (Iris and Maude Apatow, real life daughters of Mann and Apatow) continually bicker and fight. Sadie is obsessed with her electronic devices and watching "Lost". Charlotte is the little sister that likes to antagonize the older one. Debbie runs a little boutique but has troubles addressing sexy coworker Desi (Fox) regarding a huge chunk of change that has gone missing. Pete started his own record label but is struggling to bring in revenue. His only hope is to sign on aging rocker Graham Parker and his band for a reunion CD and concert appearance. Pete is less than honest with Debbie about their mortgage payments and the lack of money coming in.
Let us not forget about the father figures who deepen the issues between the two of them. Pete's dad Larry (Brooks) continues to borrow money even though Pete told Debbie he had put an end to it. Larry's debt to Pete sits at $80,000 despite being remarried himself with three sons all young enough to be his grandchildren. Debbie's dad Oliver (Lithgow) is all of a sudden in the picture despite having been absent most of her life. He is also remarried with much younger children.
Pete and Debbie go back and forth on loving each other and being completely sick of each other. This struggle provides a great honesty and range with the emotional pull between the couple. The film may have its gross-out raunchy humor and gags, but there are plenty of serious heartfelt moments to elevate it over your standard dumbed down bathroom humor flick. I will take this kind of "dramedy" over some lame-brain Adam Sandler flick any day. Even if you haven't been in the same shoes and predicaments as Pete and Debbie, the honesty between the two will still ring true to a relationship in your life whoever it may be with.
This is the fourth feature written and directed by Judd Apatow. It is certainly his most personal and mature film to date. Apatow and Mann have said that about a third of the movie is based on their real life marriage. Apatow knows how to write for Rudd and Mann. They are hysterically funny one moment and painfully biting when they are throwing verbal jabs at each other. Their supporting company of actors especially Brooks and Lithgow are given their moments to shine as well. Apatow has been known for making many of his movies longer than they really need to be. Do not even get me started on the painfully abysmal Funny People which was the movie he made before This is 40. Talk about a movie that was not funny for the entire two and a half hour run time. This is 40 stays pretty on target and does not suffer fatigue. The party scene could be shortened and tightened, but that is the only moment I felt the pace dip. Make sure to stay during the final credits for an outtake reel showing off Melissa McCarthy. She just lets loose and riffs making it one of the funniest moments of the entire movie.
RATING: **** (4 out of 5 stars)