Title: This Is 40
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Albert Brooks, Charlyne Yi, Lena Dunham
Plot: Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) are both on the verge of turning 40 and both struggling to deal with what it means to each of them, while at the same time trying to handle the fact their businesses are falling apart, their kids are nuts and everything is threatening to fall apart.
Review: As the sequel / spin off to “Knocked Up” at first this seems like an unusual movie to follow on the surprise success of the film which still remains a better guide for preparing first time fathers than any of supposed guides on the subject with its message of your screw up but your find yourself in the end. Still clearly feeling that Alison and Ben’s story had been told and perhaps also due to the fact that he had cast his own wife and daughters as Debbie and her daughters Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow) which I have to imagine is cheaper than to pay for either Seth Rogan or Katherine Heigl to come back for a sequel so now the focus is switched to Pete and Debbie.
While “Knocked Up” dealt with impending parenthood, this film chooses to deal with the pressures of parenthood and generally getting older with Pete struggling to deal with the fact that his life is essentially no more sorted despite as his record label is struggling while his father pesters him for handouts. Debbie meanwhile is just struggling to deal with the fact that she is getting older, seeing her impending 40th birthday as a sign that she has become an old lady and can therefore no longer be the hip woman she feels she still is while equally worried that her surprise pregnancy might prove to the breaking point for her and Pete’s relationship.
Despite seeming like their relationship was generally solid in “Knocked Up” they continue to work well as characters here even if Apatow is essentially creating a bunch of issues for these characters for the purpose of this film and yet it still works thanks largely to the natural chemistry between Rudd and Mann both actors who thrive when given natural comedy to work with, rather than humour which has to be setup. At the same time as both characters have their own separate worlds which enables them to function both together and apart while unquestionably being one of the main reason this film runs a lot longer than it really needs to as Apatow attempts to juggle multiple plot threads such as their attempts to deal with equally useless employees at their businesses or the pressures that each of them are facing with their 40th approaching.
Thankfully these numerous subplots are largely as fun as the intractions between Pete and Debbie, with Debbie trying to find out who is stealing money from her boutique which lets face it any excuse to include Charlyne Yi in your film is always going to be a welcome one, while she is probably one of the more random characters to be carried across at the same time, with her character having been just one of Ben’s stoner friends in “Knocked Up” and here is thankfully none the less more random. On the other hand Megan Fox turns up as essentially the token hot chick Desi making this really just another paycheck for her, especially when the hardest thing her character has to do is put up with the skin crawling pick up routine of Jason Segal’s personal trainer, a character whose I was less than thrilled about seeing return here, much like whenever I see Segal’s name associated with anything and here its none the less of a car crash of Segal thinking he’s either more charming / funny than he is.
An enjoyable experience much like its predecessor the run time is unquestionably ambitious and meaning that it might outstay its welcome for some, but at the same time it has a good energy and amongst the first world problems, pop culture refrences and aging generation x observations it still feels a lot more fresh than a lot of the comedies of late and a story I would like to see a part 3 for even if it’s unclear were the story can go from here more so when he’s already addressed getting older with this film, but I’d be interested to see as and when he gets around to continuing this story.