This Is 40 Review
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In 2007’s Knocked Up, long-winded writer/director Judd Apatow introduced a whole cast full of lovable comic characters. Now, in This Is 40, he catches up with a pair of the film’s supporting characters as they face family drama, financial difficulties, and the big 4-0.

With their fortieth birthdays approaching, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) both find themselves assessing their lives. Debbie spends much of her time working with a trainer, afraid of becoming old and unattractive. Pete, on the other hand, is more concerned about his business—and the fact that his family’s financial stability is resting on the upcoming release of a new album by an aging musician.

The couple’s marriage, meanwhile, is suffering. And while Debbie struggles to cling to her youth through healthy living, Pete sneaks cupcakes and dreams of life as a widower.

  
 
Throughout This Is 40, Debbie often complains that Pete’s choice of music doesn’t make people happy. The same is true of the film itself; this movie won’t make people happy. It’s whiny and shrill and obnoxious, filled with bickering and lies and screamed profanities.

Though the film is marketed as a comedy, it’s hard to say where the comedy plays into it. While it has a few amusing moments, This Is 40 is mostly just an endless cycle of family drama. It starts with Pete and Debbie screaming at each other. Then they join forces to scream at someone who’s even crazier than they are. Then they make up for a while. Then they find another reason to start screaming at each other, and the whole agonizing cycle begins again. Perhaps some people will find their ongoing marital strife funny, but most will just find it depressing—and exhausting.

Meanwhile, as is usually the case with Apatow’s films, This Is 40 is far too long. There’s barely a story, yet he somehow managed to drag it out into a rambling two hours and fifteen minutes of awkwardness and self-indulgence. Had he simply cut down on the pointless scenes involving Pete and Debbie’s kids (played by Mann and Apatow’s own daughters, Maude and Iris), the runtime may have been a little more reasonable—and the constant bickering may have been a bit easier to endure. But while most parents are content to post the occasional home movie on Facebook, Apatow clearly felt the need to force his kids and their self-conscious cuteness on a captive audience of fatigued strangers.

Apart from Rudd’s Pete, who often seems to be just an innocent bystander in the whole thing, the characters in This Is 40 are spoiled and bossy, and it’s difficult to care about what happens to them. And let’s face it here: most of us get our fill of bickering and family dysfunction at our annual holiday gatherings. So unless you’re separated from your family this holiday season, and you really miss the usual awkwardness and discomfort, there’s simply no good reason to sit through this grating family dramedy.


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