Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann
A couple approaching the age of 40 try to make some changes in their lives. Supposed comedy ensues.
Judd Apatow. Let me leave that name with you for a moment...
Back in 2005, the Apatow was hailed as the saviour of modern comedy, the man who was going to bring some grown up sensibilities, and that very enjoyable R-rating, back to the genre. And he’s certainly been prolific, putting his name to at least 20 movies since his feature debut with the hilarious The 40 Year Old Virgin.
The films themselves have varied in quality, and the same can be said for his directorial efforts. Knocked Up was mostly watchable but started to show signs of the pitfalls he would later revisit, and Funny People was a laborious chore, bloated with unnecessary plot-lines and lip service to Apatow’s many celebrity friends. Well This it 40 is officially his worst film to date.
It takes every unsatisfactory element of Apatow’s previous movies and amplifies them. Find his kids alarmingly annoying? There’s at least an hour of them here. Think Leslie Mann is shrill and needlessly bitchy? She takes it to a whole new level here as the utterly whiny wife who moans and complains about her encroaching fifth decade.
At least in Funny People there was a genuine dramatic crisis you could care about (Sandler’s illness) and a sense of a recognisable plot. Here, a couple of fairly contented middle class types complain because their life is a little too mundane. This entire film is like that meme, but drawn out to ridiculous length by random characters and some entirely unfunny comedy. I’ve rarely heard a cinemas as quiet as mine was during This is 40.
Further, Apatow spends even more time inflicting his insufferable family on the audience. Alongside wife Mann he’s also brought back the terrible twosome of Iris (who’s still a little cute) and Maude – who has become a teenaged harridan. I’m still half convinced he’s presenting these films as some kind of defence for a future case involving some serious mass homicide.
Arguably, no one fares much better in This is 40 – it’s a film about generally unpleasant people complaining about their fairly well-to-do lives. But even that might be tolerable without the glut of extra stories and characters. Why do I care if Megan Fox is stealing from Mann’s shop? What’s this crap about some old-timer musician trying to revive his career and why in the name of good holy shit do I have to listen to some kid talking how awesome Lost is three years after the run ended? Was Apatow just
not arsed spending 15 minutes rewriting the script?
This is 40 is a terrible comedy and satisfies none of the criteria of a competent film. The interminable running time is filled with unnecessary elements and unpleasant people bitching at each other while doing very little to change their rather pleasant lot. I have rarely been happier to see the credits roll on a picture, and even then we’re subjected to some further comedy riffing in supposedly hilarious out-takes.