I’m not forty. Actually, as I’m writing this, I’m not even thirty-five. I’m bringing this up now in the interest of full disclosure for my review of This is 40 (2012, rated R). Let me also add that I do not consider myself a prude. For example, I enjoyed Knocked Up, which is the parent feature of this film. So there, now you have some context as you read this review.
This is 40 is the latest work from Judd Apatow, who has become very popular by promoting comedies that, shall we say, push the boundaries of content. They are generally very crude, with a lot of the humor involving various and sundry bodily functions. Most people figure this out after having seen The 40-Year Old Virgin and/or Knocked Up. This is 40 is a spin-off of the latter. They bear no connection other than retaining some characters, so it isn’t as though you have to see one to grasp the other.
The plot revolves around Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) and the onset of their fortieth birthdays. They’ve been together for fourteen years or so and have two daughters. Without any real fanfare, the movie launches us into Debbie’s growing mid-life crisis and Pete’s troubles at work, which really have nothing to do with how old he is. For that reason, it isn’t exactly the same-old “I’ve got to stay young/I’m too old for this” type of cliché that you might expect. It’s really about Debbie dealing with her age and how that affects the rest of her family. And some funny stuff happens along the way. But not too much.
While there were many problems with the show, this was probably the biggest one. There simply weren’t enough funny moments to make a real comedy here. I admit that there were a bunch of things that were supposed to be funny that just fell flat (eg: a 10-15 minute segment of hernia, dental, pelvic, and rectal exams). Even taking those into consideration, there was far, far too much drama for the laughs to break through. Since Apatow was both writer and director on this chore, there isn’t anybody else to blame but him for how things turned out. The final product was more like a seemingly endless stream of humorless shorts that linked together relationships of awful people acting horribly towards one another. It sort of reminded me of an R-rated version of Everybody Loves Raymond. The characters on that show were a family that did nothing but lie, insult, and degrade each other. Imagine that with nudity and f-bombs.
Let’s talk about the This is 40 characters, then. Paul Rudd has been doing decent to good work ever since he was Tommy Doyle in Halloween 6. Mann is less well-known but not entirely without talent. Here, they manage to portray a couple that, while perhaps in love, really don’t seem to like each other all that much. They go to such lengths that it basically became impossible for me to like them either. If that was their intent, they succeeded, but I think I was supposed to feel some kind of sympathy. Or something. I really don’t know what their relationship was aiming for. There was a warm and fuzzy ending, but it came off as very strange considering that the other two hours of film were mostly a lot meanness. In retrospect, this isn’t a function of the acting. It’s just the script they were dealt.
There is little or nothing to note from a Catholic perspective here. I ruminated on this for a long time. Perhaps as a warning on how not to treat other people. That’s it. I got nothing else.
I’m not sure a content section is even necessary. It’s a Judd Apatow movie. I didn’t catch any blasphemy, but that might have been because of the avalanche of f-bombs. There is nudity as well, including some sex that is more graphic audibly than visually. Keep the kids away.
In summation, This is 40 is a mess. It has neither point nor purpose nor laughs. The characters are jerks. The jokes are bad. I can think of no reason why anybody would pay money to see such a garbage movie. I’ll give it half a tiara because some of the running gags about Lost were good. Otherwise, a two hour sit-down watching grass grow would be a better use of your time.
Half a tiara