DVD Review - This is 40

Leslie Mann (left) and Paul Rudd
in "This is 40"

This movie unfortunately spoils the ending to the TV series Lost. It seems as if writer-director Judd Apatow does so not out of hatred but out of love. It seems as if he also has a love for Mad Men, but talk of that show is shut down rather quickly. Either way, it's an odd choice for a comedian to put talk of two dramas in his movie. It might seem vain, but a better choice would be to have a sitcom or a show that has more comedy to it. Why not have Louie or Community as the TV show under debate here? It makes me think that Apatow is more into drama than perhaps comedy. Going back to his signature series Freaks and Geeks, that show was funny, but it was funny because it was built on interesting drama. Yes, it was predictable, high school drama, but the performances were heartfelt and genuine enough that you forgave it. This is 40 approaches that, but doesn't quite get there.

The problem is that Paul Rudd who plays Pete and Leslie Mann who plays Debbie for the most part make the argument that they should not be together. There is an oasis in the middle of the movie of Pete and Debbie being nice, but it feels forced and over-the-top. There is a scene where Pete and Debbie work together to fight an angry mother named Catherine, played by Melissa McCarthy. Yet, McCarthy carries that scene and it ends anti-climatically with further proof that Pete and Debbie shouldn't be married any more.

For the rest of the film, Pete and Debbie complain or fight. We never really feel the love. This is supposed to be funny, but it's not. We get the sense that the source of their antagonism is the two children they have, their two daughters. Pete has an eating disorder and Debbie has this irrational fear of aging. Pete is a pushover. Debbie is too controlling. Things might be okay for them if they didn't have kids, although that could be true of all married couples.

I'm not sure Apatow knows what a happy ending is any more. Spoiler alert! Pete and Debbie have to sell their house and this is Apatow's ending? Ryan Adams is unknowingly serenading them, but it's still a rather sad ending. It's the oddest note to conclude a movie that's supposed to be a comedy. This is emblematic of so many scenes that end on odd notes. Apatow thinks he ends the scenes on funny jokes or good one-liners, but only rarely does that actually happen here.

Albert Brooks and John Lithgow co-star as Pete's dad and Debbie's dad respectively. Both are great. Jason Segel has a few scenes, basically playing the same character in I Love You, Man (2009). Chris O'Dowd also has a few scenes, basically playing the opposite of his character in Bridesmaids (2011) or essentially the same character in The IT Crowd. Megan Fox is here only because she's sexy. Her beauty is her only asset and the only joke that Apatow can concoct when it comes to her.

There's also so much of people shouting and yelling at each other. The one bright spot is a quiet moment when Debbie is talking to one of the hockey players from the Philadelphia Flyers. It's also the funniest scene by far, and it doesn't involve curse words or anything. It's just a simple premise and that premise is Debbie being surprised that the hot hockey player is interested in her. It also could have been the source of more drama but Apatow goes nowhere with it. It seems superfluous.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 13 mins.


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