Directed by Judd Apatow (The 40-Year Old Virgin, Funny People), This is 40 is something of a disappointment, even though it is Apatow’s most honest film to date. The film has it’s funny moments, but is mostly an uncomfortable dramatic film that deals with the idea of growing older and aging. This is my least favorite of Apatow’s films.
There is not much in the way of a plot here. It is basically a snapshot of Pete and Debbie’s relationship as they turn 40 and prepare for their 40th birthday party. They go through the typical phases we all go through as a married couple with children. They love each other, they hate each other, they simply co-exist in the same space. Along the way, Debbie deals with a potential theft at her boutique while Pete deals with his record labels first artist not selling as much as is necessary to keep him afloat. Financial issues intrude on their personal lives and add stress and difficulties to an already strained marriage. Along the way, Debbie’s estranged father (John Lithgow) resurfaces as tensions grow with Pete’s father (Albert Brooks).
The story is a bit meandering as we watch this husband and wife fall apart. The plot lines of the record business and boutique feel unnecessary to the story, even though I can understand why Apatow put them in. I feel that they were left in to give this couple a complete life, that they are not a typical film couple who don’t work, or work so little that it never enters into the equation of their lives. They have work and a life outside the home, like we all have. What these jobs do, though, is slow down the story of the relationship between Debbie and Pete as they turn 40, which is where the meat of the story lives.
The performances is this film are very good. You completely believe that Debbie and Pete are a real married couple. Their interactions with their children are real and honest. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow do not rest on their laurels in this film. As supporting characters, they bring a life to this story in what could have been useless story filler. They are both magnificent, as always.
Megan Fox also stands out as Debbie’s employee at the boutique. Debbie thinks she is stealing, but where her small character arc goes provides one of the funniest moments in the film. I will not ruin it here. Just watch for the scene after her and Debbie go to the club. That’s all I will say, but the dialogue between the two had me in stitches.
A brutally honest film, This is 40 is not terribly funny. It is more uncomfortable in it’s honesty than anything else. While I was disappointed in the film, I did not hate it. I just cannot wholeheartedly recommend it. With great performances, including Megan Fox, it will not completely disappoint. Just don’t expect the hilarity of Apatow’s other films.
** out of ****
BIZZAM!! Fun Facts!
- The characters of Pete and Debbie appeared in Knocked Up, hence the reason this film is ‘The Sort-of Sequel to Knocked Up‘.
- Billie Jo Armstrong of Green Day makes a cameo in the film.
- Melissa McCarthy has a small, but hilarious, role in the film.
- Leslie Mann, who plays Debbie, is the wife of director Judd Apatow.