Wednesday, 16 January 2013
FILM REVIEW: THIS IS 40
This Is 40 picks up where most rom-coms and fairy tales fear to tread: beyond the 'happy ever after'. A sequel-of-sorts to his 2007 hit Knocked Up, writer-director Judd Apatow's fourth film joins long-time marrieds, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) (friends of the previous film's lead protagonists) as they hit 40, their financial limits and reality.
Not surprisingly, given the current economic climate, Pete's small record label is failing, as is Debbie's clothes stores (actually, one of her employees may be pilfering from the till; odds are it's the one who looks a lot like Megan Fox). Pete is also providing clandestine loans to his father (a scene-stealing Albert Brooks), who's supporting a much younger wife and three Aryan rugrats whom the old man can't tell apart let alone keep up with.
But Pete and Debbie have kid troubles all their own: a moody teen already immersed in the world of social media, and a youngster who, unable to do everything her big sister does, is happy to irritate her at every opportunity (both girls played by Apatow and Mann's daughters, Maude and Iris).
Such every day frustrations leave little time for the release of sexual ones, but This Is 40 isn't a smutty comedy about a lack of sex (though their is sex talk to be sure): it's about the hard work that is marriage; keeping the spark alive -- which is hard when you're partner wants you to check their anus for piles -- whilst balancing everything else. And though everything is played for laughs, Apatow's observations on relationships hit close to home every now and then.
And Apatow wants comedy -- and his films -- to be taken seriously. That's partly the reason, one suspects, that he likes to take 120 minutes or more (see The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People) to say what could quite easily be accomplished in 100; confusing length for import. But there's a reason, Judd, why brevity rhymes with levity, and for the existence of the cliche 'less is more'.
Still, it's not so unpleasant to spend time with Pete and Debbie: Rudd's always been a likeable screen presence, and Mann (Apatow's real life wife) manages to invest her rather shrill character with some empathy, the highpoint being when, flushed with pregnancy hormones, she verbally attacks the classmate of her eldest daughter for his cyber bullying (Melissa McCarthy plays the boy's mum, and pretty much steals the film in a closing credits out-take).
By no means a comedy classic -- it's as imperfect as married life -- This Is 40 will provide many a laugh, some more uncomfortable than others depending on your marital or relationship situation.