Thu 20 Dec 2012
By now, most people know that the latest movie from Judd Apatow, “This is 40″, is a quasi-sequel to the 2007 hit “Knocked Up“. The “quasi” part comes from focusing on two of the supporting characters and leaving the leads from the original out of the picture.
Here we see Pete (Paul Rudd), Debbie (Leslie Mann – Apatow’s real life wife), and their two kids (Maude & Iris Apatow – yes, Judd & Leslie’s real kids) handling family life. Plot-wise there’s not much more to it. Pete is trying to hide financial difficulties from Debbie, Debbie is trying to lead a healthier lifestyle, they’re both feeling their marriage drift apart, and the kids are acting like … well, kids.
For those who have seen trailers, don’t worry that the funniest moments are necessarily all in there, because so much of the stuff you’ve seen so far actually didn’t make the final film and is likely being added to the eventual DVD extras. Also, what worked so well in “Knocked Up”, and does so again here, is that the comedy derives from the situation and not from a telegraphed punch line. It’s clear there was a lot of ad-libbing but that’s no surprise when you let Apatow behind the director’s chair and he casts such a comedian-heavy line-up.
That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and roses. While the humor is consistent and germinates naturally, the need to follow a story structure means a very trite and paint-by-numbers conflict/resolution journey. So much of the interplay and dynamic of the family was already well-defined in the previous film so there’s very little new ground being tread here aside from dealing with kids that are now five years older.
If you keep your expectations in the story department to a bare minimum and find the idea of another visit to Pete & Debbie’s house a good idea, “This is 40″ will sit just fine with you. Should any of those notions be deal breakers, obviously this isn’t the film for you. Of course, even if you are eager to check it out, this doesn’t need to be seen on the big screen. Having it released this holiday weekend does make the best case for why you might, as it’s pretty much the only intentional comedy in theaters right now; However, the lack of giant robots, orcs, and explosions thins the justification for plunking down almost enough cash to buy the DVD eventually so give your choice of viewing location a quick thought before parting with your funds so easily.