This Is 40: Rated “R” (120 Minutes)
Starring: Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Megan Fox, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd
Directed by: Judd Apatow
In 2007 in Judd Apatow’s wonderfully sweet, and painfully funny comedy Knocked up, we first met Pete and Debbie — Alison Scott’s sister and Brother-in-Law. They were a pretty typical couple who had their issues and all, well, now it is five years later, and they have two kids (both girls), mounting debt, a pair of failing businesses, and they’re turning 40 — so, yeah, they are totally living the Life of Reilly. After eight years of marriage, he and Debbie must figure out how to forgive, forget and enjoy the rest of their lives…before they kill each other. Pete is struggling to keep his record label afloat, while Debbie attempts to deal with an employee that has been stealing thousands of dollars from her.
As with all Apatow films, this one is both poignantly insightful as well as painfully funny in the manner in which it depicts the vagaries of life. What truly makes this film funny is that we can each see out own lives reflected in the comedic, tragic events of their lives. Pete’s father is not only something of a mooch (and is into Pete for thousands of dollars because his own business is in the crapper) but is also the proud (and confused) father of a trio of triplet boys (the result of result of fertility drugs). Debbie’s dad has been mostly non-existent since she was eight and is also tied up with a new wife and a youngster of his own.
Meanwhile Debbie & Pete are each wrapped up in their own drama (Pete a record exec now on his own trying to strike out with his own indie label, and Debbie with her boutique clothing store) as their whiny, demanding, entitled kids are so self-centered that all they do is provoke and annoy each other along with their parents. Meanwhile Debbie & Pete are both torn between their twin desires to be left alone by their partner and to become more intimate with them. Still, it is this slice of real life’s foibles and incongruities that cause us to smile through our pain was we watch this film. Sure their troubles are grist for our entertainment mill, but there are many of us who have gone through much of these same things, and again, that also causes us to laugh.
This — like Knocked Up — catches us in our everyday life, and (hopefully) shows us how to not get caught up (or dragged down) in the drama around us. Apatow has the unique and uncanny ability to look through the curtain that obscures our lives from us and finds the funny that we should be looking for each and every day in our own lives. It is as if he is trying to let us know that if we would each just learn to relax just a bit more then we would not only enjoy our lives all that much better, but we wouldn’t be spending so much time hurting the ones around us that we love.
Again, a sweet, funny and poignant film that is actually more than just a goofy comedy. Go see it and prepared to be surprised at how much you will enjoy it.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web.