I usually have mixed reactions to Judd Apatow movies. The setup and the beginning is usually very funny and then the second half the of movie is plot heavy and loses almost all humor. The exception, of course, is Funny People, which wasn’t funny at all. So, it was with some trepidation that I went to go see Apatow’s newest film This Is 40. I do have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Let’s see what happened.
Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), the in-laws from Knocked Up, are both turning 40 and this is causing them to introspect on their lives and decide if they want to change some things. Pete has a vanity music label that he’s using to put out highly regarded artists who don’t sell anything. Debbie has a small boutique with a couple employees, one of whom is stealing from her. They have money issues, which Pete is desperately trying to hide from Debbie, health issues, kid issues (with the kids played again by Apatow and Mann’s kids, Iris and Maude) and parent issues. The movie builds towards Pete’s 40th birthday party (since Debbie is still denying that she’s 40). The plot is basically the couple dealing with their lives and family as they head towards this party. The plot isn’t much to talk about, but it’s mainly there as a framework for the characters. This is one of those movies where everything could be settled if they just talked. But the movie does show the reasons and underlying beliefs which stand in the way of people talking honestly to each other.
And I haven’t even touched on the humor yet. The movie is intensely funny, especially if you have kids and are on the wrong side of 40. Apatow is able to mine a lot of humor from the relationships with his wife and kids. There is also several supporting characters (Debbie’s trainer and their co-workers) who help and aggravate Paul and Debbie’s concerns about their aging.
<iframe src=”http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1=_blank&bc1=000000&IS2=1&bg1=FFFFFF&fc1=000000&lc1=0000FF&t=comiccompendi-20&o=1&p=8&l=as4&m=amazon&f=ifr&ref=ss_til&asins=B008220D5K” style=”width:120px;height:240px;” scrolling=”no” marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ frameborder=”0″ align=”right”></iframe>This definitely isn’t a movie for everyone. Younger viewers and those without kids are less likely to appreciate the movie. But for those of us in the sweet spot of this movie, it is hilariously cringeworthy as you see way too many humorous scenarios that hit too close to home. Apatow does a masterful job of wringing tension and humor about simple everyday fights and arguments. And he does a great job showing a family that has a lot of issues, but is, at it’s core, dedicated to each other and using the problems to grow stronger. Recommended.