THIS IS 40
* (out of 5)
December 21, 2012
Paul Rudd as PETE
Leslie Mann as DEBBIE
John Lithgow as OLIVER
Albert Brooks as LARRY
Megan Fox as DESI
Directed by: Judd Apatow
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Judd Apatow is a moron.
Don’t get me wrong. The guy has made some entertaining films, mostly as producer of course. (After all, while “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is a quality flick, “Knocked Up” has soured with age and Katherine Heigl fatigue, and “Funny People” gets worse and worse the more time passes). However, the guy’s massive ego and complete detachment from what it’s like to live in the real world has made him an absolute monster.
This is no more evident than when you watch “This Is 40.”
First, the concept behind this movie is a lesson in narcissism and nepotism. Apatow took peripheral characters from “Knocked Up” – characters that were shrill and irritating in their limited roles– and worked an entire movie around them. Of course, he did this so he could cast his real-life wife and kids again.
This approach was cute and endearing five years ago in “Knocked Up.” It became old and borderline ridiculous a couple years later in “Funny People.” In “This Is 40,” it’s the feature film equivalent of a governor appointing his ditzy girlfriend to head his cabinet.
This film follows Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) as they turn 40 and deal with their own inexplicable midlife crises. Debbie refuses to acknowledge her age, while Pete tries to escape his family by playing on his iPad while on the crapper. The oldest daughter (Maude Apatow) screeches at her parents or sister in practically every scene. The youngest daughter (Isis Apatow) delivers lines like Tara Reid in the latest “American Pie” flick, making it painfully obvious she’s the director’s daughter.
The bulk of the film features Debbie and Pete fighting, sometimes about stupid things like why Debbie continues to lie about her age. Other times, it’s about massive things that manifest as glaring problems in their marriage, like the fact that Pete’s trying to sell the house from underneath the family (without their knowledge of consent) in order to make financial ends meet.
Both Debbie and Pete are also facing business problems. Debbie’s vintage clothing store is suffering because one of her clearly insane clerks (Megan Fox and Charlyne Yi) is skimming money from the register to the tune of $12,000. Meanwhile, Pete’s record label is facing bankruptcy because he chooses to rep geriatric musicians like Graham Parker and then freak out when no one pays to download the music.
The biggest problem with “This Is 40” is that it is the most horrible marriage of two horrible people raising two horrible children. I swear, if my family would act like the people in this movie, I’d sell them all into white slavery.
There is nothing likeable about the characters, aside from the general charisma of Paul Rudd, and even that wears thin fast. Leslie Mann, who was quite a looker in her 20s, is aging fast, making her cuteness and pixie-like voice into a shrill nightmare. The woman is so vain that her husband puts her into movies and gushes over how hot she is. Remember that scene in “Funny People” where Adam Sandler talks about how good she looks in tight jeans? Imagine 137 minutes of that nonsense.
If this is the way Apatow’s life really is – even if this film is a blatant overexaggerated caricature of things – I pity the man. There is no love shown in the movie. Only resentment, insults and fleeting moments of affection usually masked by drug use.
“This Is 40” is the result of a nerd who grew up to marry an attractive actress only to discover that looks aren’t everything. The lives of this family (which I can only read as “the Apatow family) is a gateway to hell in a world that doesn’t even take place in reality.
Sure, there are a few laughs, often courtesy of Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, who play the couple’s respective fathers (playing stock characters for the actors, but hey, at least that works). However, these characters’ excuse to be in the movie makes no pragmatic sense. For example, Lithgow plays Debbie’s estranged father that the children don’t even know exists. I can buy the fact that he’s not around, but the 14-year-old daughter doesn’t even seem to comprehend the fact that there was a biological father in her mother’s past. Lunacy.
“This Is 40” is sheer madness on a stick. It’s an excruciating film that’s only redeeming value is to remind you that your own family is better than the hideous creatures and relationships shown on the screen.