Logan J. Fowler loves him some Paul Rudd…
Plot: When Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Man) both hit the big 4-0 (with Debbie still proclaiming she’s 38), the two face oncoming parental issues, children complexities, arguments lined with lying, but most of all, they must work to stay true to each other as progression of life together provides challenges to their love life.
A spin off to Knocked Up, This is 40 provides Judd Apatow with a return to comedy that is a step up from where he was with Funny People, a movie that I wanted to love but ultimately just couldn’t work with. Apatow brings back characters from Knocked Up as a spring board for a sometimes laugh out loud, sometimes depressing look at getting older with the world changing around the two key players. Pete is in a dying music business, Debbie has financial issues at her job, believing somebody has stolen a chunk of change at her store, and their kids are at odds while the older one is going through changes and the younger one just wants what’s best for everyone. These real world issues seep into what is otherwise a really funny movie. There’s a lot of humorous stuff here, especially the hotel scene with the couple, and the running gag of LOST trickled all over the movie. However, this is an Apatow movie so there’s a bit of a lull in the third act where things just slow down a bit too much but ultimately the movie has interesting substance beyond the two main leads.
Albert Brooks builds up tension as Pete’s money grubbing father, and the play off with his triplet children in the movie is hilarious. The kids are not only adorable but hysterical, spouting off quotable lines left and right. Melissa McCarthy, who is basically everywhere now, has a small role but steals the two major scenes she’s in, and has a great improv scene over the end credits. Stay for it if you check the movie out, it’s a riot.
John Lithgow plays Debbie’s absent father, which creates even more tension in an already tension wrought film. Megan Fox is the accused money stealer at Debbie’s clothing store, and Fox plays the typical sexpot as it’s a role she’s slipped so comfortably into. Fox just provide a few laughs actually and she wasn’t half bad in this, maybe she should stay on for more comedic bit roles in the future. I still don’t see the big attraction to her but aside from that no beef whatsoever with her turn here.
Finally Jason Segel shows up as some sort of physical trainer and I love the dude but I feel like he’s just filler here. I think he’s playing the same character from Knocked Up but that’s debatable unless you’re a hardcore fan. There’s a massive birthday party later in the movie and it’s weird not to see any of the cast from Knocked Up at said party, to really provide continuity between the two.
Oh and there’s a cameo from the front man from one of my favorite bands and needless to say it got me really excited. That’s it, you’ll know it when you see it.
Of course I can’t break down the cast without focusing on our two leads. Mann (Apatow’s wife in real life) can be borderline annoying if she tried hard enough and most of the time she’s just kind of wasted or side filler in Apatow movies. However here she’s a main player, and she comes off vulnerable, attractive, and emotionally strong as the movie takes its course. Good job by her.
Of course, I can’t ever put down Paul Rudd, as I honestly cherish him as an actor. He’s every bit as funny as he could be when he has the right beats, and at the same time, he provides a dramatic arc that you fully believe. In Apatow’s hands he works really well and that hasn’t changed here.
This is 40 is not Apatow’s best work but it flies better than his material as of late. A rock solid cast helps to usher out depressing moments or lulls in the movie and ultimately you’ll chuckle heartily throughout only to be side swiped by some truly laugh out loud moments. It’s good time, indeed.