This Is 40

 This is 40 is the brand new film from the laugh-meister Judd Apatow. As the poster says, this is sort of a sequel to Knocked Up (which I didn’t see). While there are some laugh-out-loud moments, you need not have seen Knocked Up to realize that this really isn’t all that funny. I’d venture to say that there are more cringe worthy moments than funny moments.

Apatow has assembled a series of riffs or bits that are loosely stitched together around the central theme – life at 40 sucks. That was my thought during the first hour or so of the film.

During the second half (the film runs 134 minutes so don’t take the word ‘half’ too precisely) I changed my thinking somewhat. Is this a comedy with some dramatic moments, or is this a drama with some comedic moments? The answer to that question won’t come easily.

The film begins with sex in the shower, and from there we visit various ‘neighborhoods’ like Viagra, blow-jobs, boobs, penis jokes, vaginal jokes, a visit to a proctologist, a visit to a gynaecologist, and by means of mirrors, lamps, and a hand-held camera, Paul Rudd as Pete does a DIY rectal examination.

Add in financial problems – his record label is failing, her boutique dress shop has serious cash shortages. Then there are the two kids – two girls, 13 and 8. Missed mortgage payments, credit card worries and he doesn’t tell his wife about any of their fiscal issues. Why tell your wife that we’re nearly broke – where is the upside in doing that? But wait there’s more – Pete’s Dad is broke and is constantly hitting Pete up for loans which are never repaid. Her Dad flew the coop when she was a youngster, and has pretty much stayed away from his now grown daughter. It’s not so much of an estranged relationship as it is a non-relationship.

And to top all of the above off – she’s just learned she’s pregnant. How often does that happen when you’re 40? Does she tell her husband about this news. Don’t be silly.

Yeah, life at 40 sucks.

So why release a film like this around Christmas. Especially since Barbra Streisand’s Guilt Trip opened last week ago, and Billy Crystal and Bette Midler open in Parental Guidance on Christmas Day. I’ve no idea.

Now for the casting – Apatow made this a real DIY project as he cast his own wife, Leslie Mann as Debbie (the wife) and his own kids, Maude Apatow as Sadie the 13-year-old and Iris Apatow as Charlotte the 8-year-old, as the kids. The kids were fine in their roles. No need to drag out the word cute for their characters. Annoying fits better. Leslie Mann was actually quite good and showed plenty of range and different facial expressions. But Rudd was nothing special.

By the way, Apatow tossed in Rudd’s Pete spending too much time in the bathroom THREE times. And it wasn’t funny the first time – so why the repetitions?

Are those real?

Are those real?

Along for the ride were Apatow regulars Jason Segel and Robert Smigel as Debbie’s fitness trainer and Pete’s best friend respectfully. John Lithgow and Albert Brooks played the two granddads. Lithgow had very little to do, and Brooks shined in his role. Megan Fox was on hand to be the butt of the boob jokes (Are those real?) and Lena Dunham, from the TV series Girls, was on hand to discuss some issues about her sexual organ going unused for so long. Melissa McCarthy also appeared in two scenes that were funny in concept but a tad over-the-top, especially the bit about Pete poking her nipple. He actually touched just below her shoulder.

I’m not sure what Apatow was truly going for in this film. Was this a reflection of his real-life situation? Maybe. Or maybe this is just a clever guy free associating, or riffing, about how badly life sucks at 40.  I still can’t decide whether this is an out-and-out no-so-funny comedy, or a drama played for laughs. So I’ll score this at 2.75 and advise you to wait for it to become available on the streaming sites.

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