In the new Judd Apatow comedy This Is 40, the writer/director/producer of raunchy twenty-something comedies has attempted to show a little maturity. Given that the subject matter is that of a married couple who are both turning 40 in the same week there would have to be a little growing up in the writing, but, sadly, there’s not enough.
Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) hate the realization that the clock keeps turning. “We’re too young to take Viagra,” Debbie declares. Pete runs a small record company and Debbie owns a store. Both are struggling. Like many couples, Pete and Debbie are feeling the economic pinch and need to make changes.
he problem with This is 40 – and there are many – is that the married couple are hardly mature. They should be likable – a kind of representation of your average, middle-class white characters fast approaching middle-age – but their bickering, their problems and their general manner all develop into something quite unpleasant.
First, the idea that everyone, including the kids, drop continual f-bombs in casual speech is neither funny, nor real. Considering that this is truly an Apatow family affair – Leslie Mann is the real life Mrs. Apatow and the two girls who play their children are also Judd Apatow’s real life children – you have to wonder in what kind of impenetrable Hollywood bubble do the Apatows live? Is this how they behave and talk for real, and do they really believe they represent what the average family throughoutAmerica is like? When Debbie lectures her mischievous girls she’s dropping f-bombs like free samples, and the girls return in kind. When Pete and Debbie meet with the high-school principle, f-bombs are the order of the day. If the swearing was somehow cleverly creative, that would be fine, but it’s not. It’s vulgarity used as a desperate punch-line.
Plus, it’s hard to relate to Pete and Debbie’s economic woes. They have a large Los Angeles house, they drive a BMW, Pete has loaned more than $80,000 to his father – what average family even has $80,000 to spare? – and yet we have to listen to them whine about how difficult things are for them.
There are moments of fun and the occasional observational wit that works – “My boobs are gone,” complains Debbie. “They didn’t even say goodbye” – but it’s also often painful. While Apatow’s obvious aim is to say something about growing older and taking responsibility for things in a more mature manner, whether you want to face that reality or not, he fails with characters and situations that never ring true, unless, of course, you live inside of Apatow’s Hollywood bubble.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 133 minutes Overall Rating: 5 (out of 10)