LIFE might begin at 40 but if we follow Judd Apatow’s gospel, you have to go through a whole lot of drama before you get there.
Judd Apatow is much more well-known for his combination of slapstick, gross-out comedy that is filled with dry, boundary-pushing one-liners (think 40-Year-Old Virgin) but This is 40 draws on part of his own experience and continues to dabble in the more dramatic side of cinema.
When married couple Pete and Debbie both turn 40 within a week of each other, they take it in different ways.
Pete, in typical male fashion, blows it off and continues on with his life of work, secret stashes of cupcakes and cycling.
But for Debbie, it rings alarm bells as she tries to stay young, manage a fashion store and keep her family together.
The characters of Pete and Debbie are carried over from 2007 comedy Knocked Up (starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen).
The semi, spin-off sequel meets the “sensible couple” (as they were in Knocked Up) five years later with a daughter going through puberty, Pete managing a failing record label and Debbie feeling slightly unfulfilled.
As the pair try to manage their family while maintaining the spontaneous spark of passion in their marriage more and more drama fills their lives.
In many ways, the style of comedic drama that Apatow reaches for has been seen before in Funny People (starring Adam Sandler).
Funny People was the last feature film that Apatow directed and three years later he still hasn’t got the balance of comedy and drama completely right.
It’s not to say that This is 40 is a bad film. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann work incredibly well together as Pete and Debbie.
It is clear through the on-screen chemistry that each is very familiar with one another, which is unsurprising considering they have featured together in a number of films.
Rudd in particular has mastered his type of sarcastic, sly humour and Mann can turn on the crazy as easily as a garden hose.
Megan Fox provides a fantastic support as Debbie’s young, flirty shop assistant and shows she can be more than a damsel in distress that the camera can ogle (even if the camera and some of the characters do blatantly ogle).
Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, John Lithgow and Albert Brooks all lend the talents admirably as do Apatow and Mann’s (Apatow’s real-life wife) children Iris and Maude Apatow.
The main thing that was distracting about this film was it’s length (and not Megan Fox).
At more than two hours long, Apatow seemed to film the whole script and not take anything out. This is 40 can easily be about half an hour shorter and have the same result.
The themes of staying happy and true to family are there even if the message is slightly fuzzy.
Apatow’s fans should expect a bit more of a dramatic dose from his latest film with familiar awkwardness and laughs we expect from this cast and crew.
The Verdict: 2½ stars.
- This is 40 (MA15+) is now showing at Bendigo Cinemas.