Film Review : This is 40
● By Justin Buettner
This is 40 is the newest comedy by Judd Apatow, the writer and director of several hit comedies the last decade including Knocked Up which the advertising constantly reminds you of. The film follows the misadventures of Pete and Debbie, a married couple who navigate the rocky moments of marriage and middle age. This includes money issues, parent issues and parenting issues as the couple has a teenage daughter. The advertising calls the film a ‘sort of sequel’ to Judd Apatow’s biggest hit Knocked Up, but This is 40 contains no connection or mention of the events from that film.
This is Forty includes all the egotistical drama of a married couple, yet it forgets to include the endearing qualities too. What you are left with are two very selfish characters trying to co-exist at the detriment to each other and those around them. This may have been fine if the problems were eventually addressed and a conclusion was reached. However once all the white lies and deception float to the surface the main characters just let major issues slide on by, almost like they didn’t matter at all. Because of the unstructured nature of the story and the numerous sub plots, the entire film gets a bit convoluted. Uninteresting side characters seem to take over scenes and almost serve as a distraction to the main plot instead of help it. All the extra side plots add unwanted minutes to the run time on the movie too making the film too long for the story and message it delivers.
The comedy never works as it should because the characters of Pete and Debbie are too specific and are not relatable by most people. Any married couple will not emphasize with a couple that seem to have only self inflicted problems and young unmarried twentysomethings do not relate nor do they care to relate to these characters. Ultimately the movie completely misses the mark on who their target audience is . This couple creates problems by lying to each other about everything (including going to the bathroom) and almost all the deceit is just flat out weird. This includes the couple both coming unhinged at a school mom then both independently lying about the event at a meeting with a principle. This scene, which was intended to be funny, just makes the main characters come across mean, nasty, and quite honestly mentally unstable all while failing to produce so much as a chuckle let alone a laugh.
I really like Paul Rudd but he needs to be more consistent about finding quality films. With the exception of the very enjoyable Our Idiot Brother, his track record has been spotty at best. The person who is most in need of a hit is Judd Apatow. After a string of great comedies last decade as a writer, director and producer, he has failed to put his name on a really funny film since 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Instead he has a long list of terrible films filled with the likes of Year One, Zookeeper, and now This is 40. Good thing he has the sequel to 2004’s Anchorman coming up in November to hopefully put him back on the right track.
There is a very specific audience for This is 40, and that small audience that finds enjoyment in the movie will do so for the drama, not the comedy. Most people will find the movie aimless, annoying, and over long. The remotely funny gags are all shown in the trailer, so unless the preview had you howling with laughter, don’t expect that they saved the best laughs for the movie. What the movie really highlights is how out of touch Hollywood is with the average American family. It is very obvious that Judd Apatow leads a very different life than that of the normal household trying to make ends meet. The movie comes across like a guy who thinks that you’re friends and sees things the same way he does, when in fact you don’t like the guy and just want him to leave.
Films like This is 40 : The Five Year Engagement, How Do You Know, Life as We Know It.
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.