They say you can’t choose your family - no truer words were spoken. Coming in at a close second is: in a relationship, if you don’t have honesty, you don’t have anything. So meet Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann). Actually, you’ve already met. We got a glimpse into their seemingly normal distrust and disfunction back in 2007’s ‘Knocked Up’ - now we’re going all-in in this not quite a sequel, not quite a spin-off, ‘This Is 40’.
Current Hollywood Grand Poobah of comedy, Judd Apatow, is once again allowing audiences behind the scenes of his real life in a glorious passive-aggressive kind of way, and what makes it all the funnier and juicier is that his real life wife and two daughters are front and centre of this slice-of-life humiliation feast.
Pete and Debbie are turning 40. Debbie has recently opened a boutique clothing shop with two of the most unique employees; sex-kitten customer favourite, Desi (Megan Fox) and awkward wallflower with a few too many hidden layers, Jodi (Charlyne Yi). Pete has started a record label that focuses on the artists Pete grew up with and admired that have long since lost their mass appeal; unsurprisingly, the business is quickly going down the hole, dragging his loyal employees Ronnie (Chis O’Dowd) and Cat (Lena Dunham) down with it.
Debbie is trying to self-medicate their ailing marriage with new diets, “us time” and nagging, while Pete is hiding their rapidly increasing financial troubles. All of this while each is tackling their own daddy issues, plus teenage daughters and all that they come with - including Facebook feuds, sibling squabbles, technology dependency and school mum confrontations. Where does one find the time?
The film does boast many genuinely laugh-out-loud and sweet moments.
Apatow doesn’t often sit in the director's chair, choosing to reign on high more often as producer and sometimes writer. The last time he did choose to direct was his ode to stand up comedy in the ironically unfunny ‘Funny People’, so you’d be right to have your reservations about his take on marriage and family. At a far too long 134 minutes, you're still left wondering, “So why are they still together again?” This is thanks to some laboured loose-end tying and Rudd and Mann’s sibling-like chemistry. However, the film does boast many genuinely laugh-out-loud and sweet moments. One thing you can’t fault Apatow on is his ability to assemble great comedic casts while portraying wonderfully frank scenes and adult themes, and he doesn’t shy away from capturing the “real” moment over a laugh.
‘This is 40’ may leave you walking away without the scale and frequency of laughs that ‘Knocked Up’ and ’The 40 Year Old Virgin’ fans are looking for, but it earns its smile-induced moments, especially those ones that irritatingly stick with you because they hit just a little too real and close to home... if you catch my drift.