As sequels continue to fill the silver screen, we begin to heavily sigh as the level of originality continues to seemingly drop. Before long, these films will run out of ideas to keep even sequels very interesting, because all things get old over time and at least need something fresh to separate it from all of the others. “This is 40” is an interesting sequel, because it is not a direct sequel. Direct sequels are movies like “Taken” and “Taken 2“, they have all or most of the original cast and follow a similar story. This film was a spinoff sequel, taking two side characters from “Knocked Up” and giving them their own film. That is relatively new in the history of film, but how did it do?
Pete (Paul Rudd), Debbie (Leslie Mann), and their two daughters, Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow) have been seen once before, in “Knocked Up”. Their characters weren’t the main focus, and having the fact that both actors are very well known, Judd Apatow found it necessary to make a movie completely for them. This takes place a few years after the events of “Knocked Up“, and it deals lighter on the fact that they are forty years old, and more with other storyline. The other story dealt with Pete and Debbie making changes among the family in order to live healthier and safer. All the meanwhile Pete is struggling with his record label job, promoting for an old rock legend that no one cares about anymore. So Pete and Debbie have to try not to fight as much, as well as keep their house.
I want to first be the first to admit that there was actually fantastic character development for this film. Pete is struggling with his job and trying to provide for his family while his father demands money, Debbie is keeping a watchful eye out for the thief that works for her that stole $12,000 from the store. There is a boy that Sadie likes, and may like her back, but he isn’t treating her all that well, and she just got her period. Finally Charlotte just wants all the fighting to end, being the voice of reason among all the racket. Now, the character development may have been partly inspired by Judd’s actual family, which is the same family in the film minus Paul Rudd. That is one talented family. The character development, as mentioned, is excellent, so where does the film fall short?
The film falls short at the story. It has that goal and plan set out, but the execution is not all there. There is honestly a lot they could have done with it if the put a lot more strength and focus into the writing of the more important scenes. It is okay to have important scenes in comedy, and to be fair this film had important parts. The placement of those scenes were okay, not great, but they worked. It had the story about trying to stay healthier, which contributed to the comedy. It had the story about the thieving staff at Debbie’s job, which also contributed to the comedy. The problem wasn’t the comedy, the comedy was great, it was on producing a solid story that would prevent its audience from only watching it once.
The comedy really was great, and that comes to no surprise as Judd Apatow is a genius when it comes to writing comedy, he really does know his material. Most of you that are aware of Apatow’s work know that his stuff is geared towards adults, always is, so please don’t take your children with you to see the film unless they are over eighteen. It is crude and inappropriate (as mentioned above, it is Apatow). It is also hilarious if that kind of stuff doesn’t scare or intimidate you, and if you can be an adult about it, you’d really think that the film is hilarious in parts.
If you were to compare this to it’s sort-of predecessor, then you might find that “Knocked Up” followed a more structured and solid story than this, because it did. To be absolutely honest, “Knocked Up” was loads better than “This is 40”, but please don’t compare it, it wasn’t meant to be compared, it was meant as a respected nod towards the other with the same characters, that’s it. As a movie on its own, its fine, but it won’t be added to your shelf like “Knocked Up” unless you really love it.
“This is 40” is still in theaters today, so don’t miss it if you are a fan of Judd Apatow!