This is 40
(2012, US, d. Judd Apatow)
Not as funny as you’d hope, not as touching as you’d expect, and far too long to not be considered over-indulgent, This is 40 marks a backwards step in Judd Apatow’s filmography.
I understand the honest intentions behind the project. If there’s one thing that you can praise about the film, it’s that it never feels ingenuine. It’s very easy to relate to the family at the heart of the film (especially Leslie Mann, who’s finally able to prove how incredible of an actress she is) and the jokes (when they land) are not only funny, but “stomp-your-feet-clap-your-hands” kind of funny. Unfortunately, they are far between.
My biggest problem with the film comes from its blatant lack of plot. Apatow’s movies always run north of 2 hours, but audiences don’t complain. Here they were. Apart from a birthday party scheduled for a few days after the opening scene, there is nothing the audiences look forward to. In the middle of the movie, I began listing off a bunch of options Apatow had in front of him – that wouldn’t have affected the heart of the story – he could have used for plot. Instead, what we get are a bunch of vignettes and standalone scenes that don’t drive the narrative forward one bit. In the opening scene, every piece of information about the marriage of the protagonists (played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) is given to us. It’s a wonderful scene (though probably the raunchiest of the entire film) and it tells us all we need to know, while making us laugh and feel. But after that, everything else is pointless. You might as well fast-forward to the last 45 minutes (which I thought were pretty good, all things considered). Of course, all of this would be forgiven if the scenes were consistently funny.
I’m a huge fan of Apatow. What he accomplished with Knocked Up, Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and even Funny People set standards for the modern comedy. He was able to use the films as a bounce board for relevant and poignant messages. Unfortunately, This is 40 never feels like that. With an unmerited running time, “over-indulgence” is the word that comes to mind. This is 40 is too good for a plot. Or so they’d like you to think.
But – if you’re not holding Apatow movies to an Apatow standard – this is still a far better comedy than everything else being made today.