Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks
Release Date: February 14th
It seems that Judd Apatow is still trying to be funny, despite the fact that his last few releases have been anything but. In fact, This Is 40 can barely be sold as a comedy. Crucially, it simply isn’t as hilarious as it claims to be. After a while, Apatow realises this and decides to shift gears and make an attempt at turning it into a slightly serious family drama. Unsurprisingly, he fails at this too.
Sold as the ‘spin-off sequel’ to the 2007 film Knocked Up, this haphazardly constructed follow-up focuses on the couple we saw in the background. Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are parents both on the cusp of turning 40 (the same week, how convenient). The two must navigate through problems commonly experienced by the archetypical, middle-class family, while trying desperately to make people laugh. The usual financial troubles, stagnant sex-life and moody teenagers serve to keep them occupied throughout. Oh, and there’s a half-naked Megan Fox to contend with. How unfortunate.
Apart from the aforementioned issues, the film possesses very little plot to speak of, barely even dealing with the troubles Pete and Debbie face. Instead, it stumbles aimlessly for an unbearable two hours and 14 minutes. It’s a huge commitment to sit through such a disjointed and unsatisfying ‘story’, one Otwo would not recommend anyone take up. Unless, of course, you’re looking for a severe form of self-torment. The core ingredients of this film are toilet humour (yes, farting) and sex jokes that aren’t even remotely funny. At best, it will make you cringe.
The obvious absence of direction might be bearable if the main cast were in any way likeable. Again, this is not achieved. As a footnote, in the much better Knocked Up, Pete and Debbie manage to work well. As the focus of the audience’s attention, they’re simply irritating and detestable, with no redeeming attributes. Even their offspring (Apatow’s real life spawn) are annoying. Ironically, it is the peripheral characters that provide the film’s sporadic comedic moments, both Chris O’ Dowd (as one of Pete’s bumbling employees) and Jason Segel (as Debbie’s pervy fitness trainer) successfully sneak in a few decent lines. Albert Brooks also elicits some chuckles as Pete’s mooching father. Unfortunately, these flashes of wit are overshadowed by the remaining two hours of sheer, painful boredom.
In a Nutshell: Truly the perfect choice for a Friday night in when you’re having trouble falling asleep.