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Movie Review: This is 40

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

this-is-40-movie-posterTitle: This is 40
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Rated: R

Synopsis: A look at the lives of Pete and Debbie a few years after the events of Knocked Up. (Via Wikipedia)

Brian’s Review: Does anyone else think that looks EXACTLY like Jennifer Jason Leigh on the film’s poster? OK, now that that’s out of the way, onto my review…

Watching The 40-Year-Old Virgin was one of my favorite moviegoing experiences of 2005, and ever since I’ve followed Judd Apatow like a loyal puppy. I finally sat down and watched all of Freaks and Geeks, which is probably one of the ten best TV shows I’ve ever had the pleasure in watching. Undeclared was great, too, as was Knocked Up, his second feature. The first film he wrote and directed that I didn’t love so much was Funny People, a longwinded movie that had less laughs and more sentimentality, with a bored-looking Adam Sandler in the lead role. When I learned his newest movie would be looking at Pete and Debbie, two of the highlights of Knocked Up, I got excited. Paul Rudd is one of the most natural, charming actors around, and Leslie Mann can be uproarious with a great script. This is 40 isn’t on the same level of 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but it’s a return-to-form for Apatow, a very funny and very modern comedy that is chockfull of great comedic performances.

What I love about Apatow’s movies is the honest, his search for the truth. The laughs in his films don’t just come out of nowhere, from unnecessary plot gimmicks. They come from real problems, real conflicts, the kind of issues many of us deal with on a daily basis. The opening scene is a gem, with Debbie learning that Pete took a Viagra before having sex with her. He took the pill because it’s his wife’s birthday and he wanted to give her something special, but she thinks he took it because he’s not attracted to her anyone and needed something to get it up. The argument that ensues is prime Apatow, one that starts off the proceedings to great effect.

Film Title: This Is 40

If there’s an issue I had with the film, it’s that there’s not really anything original about the overall story. The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up have great, original story concepts. But at the center of This is 40 is essentially just themes of growing pains, and parental neglect. Did Debbie and Pete really deserve their own movie? The film is pleasant all the way through, and has some big laughs along the way, but there’s nothing about the movie that I’ll remember or reflect on a week from now. The 40-Year-Old Virgin had incredible staying power with me, but I don’t think I’ll feel the same about This is 40. Even though they’re both about… being 40!

What I loved most about This is 40, though, were the supporting performances. Everywhere you turn you have a great supporting turn. Apatow’s real life daughters play the two girls in the movie, and Maude Apatow, as Sadie, is eerily real playing a whiny brat. Megan Fox is probably the most appealing she’s ever been in this, and Melissa McCarthy shows up for a handful of scenes, her final of which, in a school office, is probably the funniest in the whole movie. But if there’s anything I’m going to remember about This is 40, it’s the performances by Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, as Pete’s dad and Debbie’s dad, respectively. The complexities represented with both of these father-child relationships make for some heartfelt moments that don’t necessarily ring many laughs but offer up a hell of a lot of truth. And that’s what I love about Judd Apatow. He’s truthful. His films aren’t sanitized PG-13 commercially-driven offerings. They’re always raunchy, and R-rated, and hilarious, and honest. I’ll follow this man anywhere he goes!


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