This is 40
What She said:
When I was younger, I imagined 40 as the age where life
ends. People who were 40 were old, wrinkly, AARP
cardholders, who caught the early bird special at Old Country
Buffet. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I began to
realize that 40 really is not that old. We’ve just
attached this stigma to it because by the time most people
reach that age they’ve got children and obligations.
I’m personally still a decade away, and the thought of being
40 terrifies me somewhat. Ugh, gray hair. I would
have hoped that This Is 40 could have qualmed my
fears—afterall Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd both look pretty
young for their ages. Instead, the movie presents all
the drama that 40 brings with it—screaming kids, mammograms,
and oodles of spousal resentment.
You’re not wrong if you feel like the family in This Is
40 seems familiar. They’re the same family that
appears peripherally in Knocked Up. Pete and
Debbie seem like the perfect couple on the outside.
They are attractive, live in a huge home, and have adorable
daughters. But that’s just the outward appearance.
In reality, Pete and Debbie are living the nightmare of
middle age. Things are sagging, doors are closing, and
everyone is at wit’s end all the time. So yeah, Pete and
Debbie are in a lull. There are times that they
literally wish the other one was dead. And there appear
to be times when their children wish they didn’t exist
too. It’s a very frustrating life.
The movie presents this as the reality of being 40.
Maybe not for everyone, but for some who have worked so hard
to make their lives appear to be wonderful only to realize
that they need to let go a little. What I didn’t like
about this movie is that the characters seem to be too
spoiled. I’m not necessarily going to feel bad for
anyone who has a house that big and numerous electronic
devices. The moral for a while seems to be “Life
without wifi is no life at all.” Not going to
resonate. Plus, the characters are a bit too
testy. It’s one thing to feel down about your life, but
these people are straight up angry at times.
That said, there’s something oddly relatable about Pete
and Debbie. I’m not sure I’ll ever live like them, but
something about their relationship does jive with me. I
admit that there have been times I’ve wanted to be alone so
bad that I’ve hid in the bathroom. We all occasionally
yearn for that type of solitude. I also love the
representation of adjusting to life as an older
person—various changes happening to your body that you’re not
sure how to cope with. The movie presents all this in a
very funny way.
Unfortunately, I think This Is 40 was a little bit
too long and a little too heavy on the drama. I got so
sucked in by the fighting that the moments for laughter
almost seemed jarring. If it were a little less heavy,
then I think the humor would have stuck much better.
A quick side note, I’m surprised I’m not annoyed or worn
out on Paul Rudd by now. The guy is in almost every
movie, and yet I still enjoy him. Kudos to him for
staying on my good side.
Overall, I did like a lot of what This Is 40 had
to offer. It was just a bit weighed down by its own
anger and drama.
Thumbs half up.
What He said:
This is 40 is a spinoff of Knocked Up.
Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) from Knocked
Up, who were popular supporting characters, get their
own movie this time around. In theory, that’s a good idea
because Rudd and Mann and funny, their characters in the
previous were funny, and they have believable chemistry. Does
it all translate to success though?
It’s several years after the events of Knocked Up
and a lot has changed for Pete and Debbie. Pete has his own
record label, Debbie owns a clothing boutique, and they are
both turning 40. You are supposed to identify with them
feeling older, kind of sick of one another, and just
generally stressed by all the things life throws at you. And
for the most part you do. There’s a lot of good humor about
couples who have been together a long time and see each other
like nobody else does. Everyone knows what it’s like to need
more money. That’s part of the problems with this movie
though. Financial troubles are relatable, but this couple
owns not one, but two businesses. Who exactly was
writer/director Judd Apatow trying to appeal to with this
approach? It’s not that I don’t feel bad for business owners
who are struggling, it’s just not very relatable.
So throughout the movie the characters are dealing with
getting older, the fact that they annoy each other, their
kids, their parents, and their financial issues. They are
trying to fix all of these problems, while trying to keep it
together at the same time.
Apatow likes blending comedy and drama. Sometimes it works
really well. Sometimes it feels really forced, awkward, and
breaks up the pace of the movie. Rudd and Mann are funny
actors and they have good chemistry as these characters, but
there are times where the joke/drama just keeps going
on-and-on to the point you don’t care anymore. You will be
laughing at something the characters said or identifying with
their issues, but there are times where it just keeps going
and feels like bad editing. The scene will go on for about 5
minutes too long. Albert Brooks character was an example of
that. Some of the stuff he said was really funny, others were
just bizarre and puzzling, least of all funny. Apatow writes
characters very strangely sometimes. I don’t know if he has a
different interpretation of what is funny or relatable, but
sometimes it’s just strange.
I thought the movie had some really funny parts, some
relatable ones, and others where I just stared at the screen
baffled by how uncomfortable or bizarre the situation was.
Diagnosis: Thumbs half up.
This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on
April 22, 2013.