Entertainment » Movies

This Is 40

by Louise Adams
Monday Mar 25, 2013
This Is 40

Judd Apatow's "sort-of sequel to 'Knocked Up'" is "This is 40," which follows Debbie and Pete five years later, in the weeks leading up to their big four-oh birthdays.

Although we rarely see them at work (despite money problems), Pete (Paul Rudd) runs his own indie record label and Debbie (Apatow's real-life wife Leslie Mann) a boutique. They have fancy cars, and a gorgeous house with a pool and a trampoline plus two spoiled 'tweens, yet still bitch and whine about everything and everyone, including the strong supporting cast including Albert Brooks and Melissa McCarthy.

Apatow calls this "'Falling Down' with a couple" (the film, and apparently Apatow, is filled with endless film and TV references) but it's actually just a random collection of privileged people problems processed through Rudd's impotent shrugs and Mann's adenoidal nagging. The pair, who were engaging and funny as supporting players in the previous film, don't provide enough meat to carry a feature, like an amusing SNL sketch that doesn't sustain when stretched out over two plus hours.

The Blu-ray features are also seemingly endless, and narcissistically document how former stand-up comedian Apatow works, which is shooting short scenes for hours and hours, throwing out new lines and line readings over and over. This make-it-up-as-we-go-along approach doesn't produce an intact movie that could actually illuminate a modern marriage in crisis.

Robert Smigel has a small part as a friend, but his biggest contribution emerges in the "Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog" extra. Smigel's puppet alter ego advises Apatow that the Final Cut editing system has this cool feature he should check out: it has a way to edit movies.

Triumph also explains how the writer-director works his "magic." "In this scene, Apatow is trying to decide whether to use a dick joke," he notes, "or a balls joke."

There's also a gag reel, but the whole movie is basically a gag reel that exists to make only the participants laugh. This is galling.

"This is 40"
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Louise Adams is a Chicago freelance writer at www.treefalls.com (and a nom de guerre).


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