Funny and perhaps predictive of my future, This Is 40 is the fourth movie from director Judd Apatow and a quasi-sequel to the hilarious Knocked Up. A snapshot of one week of the lives of married parents Pete and Debbie, This Is 40 evokes plenty of laughs, even though the scenes are somewhat aimless and eventually unnecessary.
Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) were supporting characters in Knocked Up, their characters intended to represent both the positives and negatives of parental life that the lead characters (played by Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl) faced. This Is 40 focuses exclusively on them, on their interactions, their fights, their kids, their parents and their jobs - the good, the bad and the ugly.
This Is 40 is consistently funny and entertaining, even when things get serious. Neither Pete nor Debbie are perfect; in fact, as in real life, they are far from it. They love each other, but there are things they hate about each other, too (there's a scene where they talk about how they have fantasized murdering one another). Like in any of Judd Apatow's movies, his characters and situations are exaggerations of reality, but they are grounded nonetheless, accessible and all too relatable. Apatow has a skill for tapping into the cores of relationships and extracting their most entertaining parts, and he works his magic again.
Some critics will complain that This Is 40 is less a story than it is a series of loosely connected vignettes, each funny in their own right and yet less than their sum. To a degree this is true, but life is random; any given day can have its ups, downs, serious moments and quirks. This Is 40 may not have a groundbreaking plot, but it doesn't need to.
Where the movie does suffer is length. Apatow's biggest weakness is his inability to keep his films short in a genre that typically have short runtimes. This Is 40 is two hours and 15 minutes long, when it could have easily been an hour and fifty. Hell, even an hour and forty. The movie has several segments where it could have ended, but then it continues on for another series of scenes. After a while, they become monotonous and unnecessary. Sort of like the multiple endings in The Return of the King.
Despite its flaws, This Is 40 is an entertaining and enjoyable comedy. Among the hordes of Oscar contenders and serious dramas, This Is 40 stands far apart from other comedic alternatives currently playing in theaters. This Is 40 is one of the funnier movies of the year. But is this really what I have to look forward to?
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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