Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Back in 2007 audiences embraced an ace comedy called “Knocked Up.” And while most of the laughs came from the main plot (one night stand results in pregnancy – hilarity ensues) more than a few came from a look at a married couple with kids of their own. With “This is 40” that couple moves up to top billing.
Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) seem to have it all. A beautiful home, two great daughters and businesses they both enjoy. But something is about to happen that threatens to shake up their world. This year they are both turning 40. At least Pete is. Debbie maintains she’s still 38, which can be pretty unsettling when your medical records are usually filed by your date of birth. While Pete embraces the milestone Debbie shuns it, even going as far as to scold Pete for taking Viagra. She doesn’t see it as an enhancement for him but as a crutch, as if he doesn’t find her attractive anymore and needs a little help to rise to the occasion. Thus begins a series of events that most of us would call by one word: LIFE.
Like most films from the mind of Judd Apatow, “This is 40” is a mix of raunchy humor and heartfelt emotion, the beauty of which is that often a single scene contains both parts of the equation. Both Pete and Debbie have their quirks. Debbie is a stealth smoker while Pete has a weakness for cupcakes. Both have problems with their respective fathers, men well advanced in age yet involved in new marriages and squires of young children. Things begin to go south when it’s discovered that both spouse’s businesses are losing money, either through bad karma (Pete manages an independent record company whose latest signee, Graham Parker, hasn’t sold a significant album since the late 1970s.
With a little more “adult” then usually found in an Apatow “adult” comedy, the film is carried from start to finish by the cast. Rudd plays another variation of his most familiar character, the quiet and mild mannered, “what me worry” male lead, which is a role he does well. Mann, who is married to Apatow, continues to grow as an actress, mixing humor and drama well here. The family is completed by the addition of Apatow and Mann’s daughters, Maude and Iris, who acquit themselves well in supporting roles. As Pete’s money mooching father Larry, Albert Brooks makes himself endearing while John Lithgow also shines as Debbie’s often-absent pop Oliver.
The script, also by Apatow, has it’s funny moments but some of the lines seem like retreads from earlier films. When a reporter asks Graham Parker how his new album is different from his others the musician replies, “It’s not.” Same with the script here. Still there are enough laughs to carry you through some of the repetitive scenes and a great cameo by Melissa McCarthy that almost makes up for all of them.