Friday, September 13, 2013

This is 40

Directed by Judd Apatow.
2012. Rated R, 134 minutes.
Maude Apatow
Iris Apatow
Graham Parker
Tatum O’Neal

Whether she admits or not, Debbie (Mann) has just turned 40. Even more disconcerting than her age is that her entire life seems to be falling apart. Nearly every conversation with her husband Pete (Rudd) disintegrates into argument. His fledgling record label is about to go under while her clothing store is treading water, at best. On top of all this, their oldest daughter is in full-blown crazy teen mode, looking for a shouting match with anyone in the house, anytime. By the way, both of this couple’s daughters are played by the directors real life daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow. Much of This is 40 consists of the couple in question dealing with the above problems. They must also contend with a host of periphery issues that do nothing but throw lighter fluid on an already raging fire.

The movie gives us a fairly honest look at the relationship of a long-married couple. Many of their concerns and conversations ring true. It feels like we’re watching a real family, albeit a dysfunctional one on the verge of imploding. Both Mann and Rudd feel natural in their roles and have a nice chemistry with one another. We understand that they care deeply for one another, are entirely too familiar with each other, and are going through a rough patch. We get that they love their kids and would do anything for them, but there are also times when they can’t stand them.

In typical Judd Apatow fashion, there are also plenty of over-the-top moments. A number of these work, giving us some memorable scenes. A few of them involve our two leads. Others feature Albert Brooks as Pete’s forever mooching dad. Later, John Lithgow gets in on the fun as Debbie’s father and even Megan Fox has some unforgettable moments. Granted, hers are due less to her acting than her looks, but you take what you can get. Most indelible is the extended cameo of Melissa McCarthy. She plays the parent of a boy that’s been bothering Pete and Debbie’s older daughter. Her face-to-face with Pete and the ensuing meeting in the principal’s office with both Pete and Debbie present are the high points of the movie.

Also in usual Apatow style, the movie goes on for far too long. It becomes too on the nose in the sense that we begin to feel as if we’re really living every single day with these people, and not in a good way. Things are stretched way too thin as the time between laughs keeps getting bigger while the plot just drones on and on…and on. We’re ready for the conclusion long before we finally get it. I’m no movie director, and have no expertise to speak of when it comes to creating cinema so take the next sentence with a grain of salt. In my viewing experience an hour and forty to forty-five minutes is a good rule of thumb for comedies. Most don’t have enough funny material to sustain more than that. This is 40 is no exception and it runs thirty minutes past that point. Much could be cut, it seems, just from the subplots of supporting players without altering or detracting from the main plot one bit. There are probably fifteen or twenty minutes wasted on superfluous storylines that didn't need to be introduced in the first place. All of this extra time serves to wear us down and makes the final act a chore to sit through. Our hare that bolted out of the starting gates morphs into the tortoise ever so slowly creeping across the finish line.


  1. Might give this one a watch when it is streaming for free at some point. Never really felt the urge to rush out and see or rent this one.

  2. It's probably worth that much. The first half plays better than the second half. Thanks for reading!