Dec 24 2012

Unreal Movie Review: This is 40

Published by at 12:00 pm under Movies,Reviews

The term “dramady” has been around for a while now ever since Judd Apatow started injecting a bit of the “feels” into his slapstic R-rated comedies. Usually, they were just goofy with a heart, like The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but then they evolved into something downright dark with Funny People, which was far more tragic than humorous.

This is 40 splits the difference, not going quite as low as his previous film, but hardly being a laugh riot either. It’s one of the only films I’ve seen that you could say is almost entirely devoid of plot. That’s not necessarily the insult it sounds like however, as it is an effectively frank look at what life is like for a pair of married 40 year olds with kids. They have drama with their teenage girl, issues with sex, and financial struggles. There’s no central conflict really driving the plot forward, it’s just a constant stream of fights and making up for the duration.

A spin-off of characters he created in Knocked Up, it’s a relatively personal story as it stars his wife, Leslie Mann (Debbie), and his two children Maude (Sadie) and Iris (Charlotte). Taking his place is Paul Rudd (as Pete), and he’s a brave man for letting the handsome devil shoot love scenes with his wife.

A cast of colorful characters rounds out the proceedings with Jason Segel returning in his creepster role who has eyes for Debbie and cameos from Robert Smigel, Charlyne Yi, Melissa McBride and Megan Fox as Debbie’s exceptionally hot clothing store employee who’s appearance is justified by a two minute scene where Debbie tests the physical consistency of her boobs.

*boop!*

Pete’s started a record label which signs old bands trying to get back together and sell albums, but business is bad, and his mooch of  a father is sucking the life out of him with a never ending demand for cash. Debbie battles boredom and spars with her daughters and Pete, and there is a lot of yelling involved at all times. It’s also a little distracting that the pair chosen to complain about losing their attractiveness are probably two of the best looking 40 year olds in Hollywood. It’s kind of hard to take Mann seriously as she laments her lack of sex appeal when she has the body of a 25 year old.

I don’t begrudge a movie aiming to show “ordinary” life between a middle aged married couple, but obviously for the sake of comedy things are taken to absurdity with Pete threatening to hit a bullying kid with his car, and Debbie almost having sex with the Philadelphia Flyers.

But all these funny moments are more along the lines of “aha!” rather than any sustained amount of laughter. Rather, the plot ends up being rather dark for most of the duration, and the running length is inexcusable for a comedy like this. Two hours and fifteen minutes feels like an eternity for this sort of film, and the plot meanders from one issue to the next and never really is able to find a focus. Yes, it’s meant to be an exploration of a marriage and family life, but the humor relies a little too much of foul language to truly be called clever most of the time, and the drama is often just depressing. And without much focus, the film feels stretched, like a half hour could have easily been trimmed without losing a thing.

“What do you mean Rogen wouldn’t show up for a cameo?”

Mann and Rudd are great in their respective roles, and they do an adequate job of making someone like myself fear marriage and aging, but like Funny People, this isn’t really a fun film, which isn’t the best experience when you’ve set out to see a comedy.

2.5 out of 5 stars





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4 responses so far

  • Steve

    Good review, but I’m feeling pedantic today. “Dramady” has been a term since long before Judd Apatow.

  • Steve p

    I really enjoyed the movie, but found it ridiculously depressing, more so than it tried to be.

    Part one of that is I am currently going through similar shit with my wife. Lack of passion and love. While only 30 and not having kids, we both are working a lot and its hard to find time to spend together. and when we finally do, we struggle to find things to do together.

    Second to that is the LOST subplot. My dad and I were very close and both loved LOST. We’d discuss it for hours every week. 2 months after the finale he died very suddenly. I can’t watch the finale without tearing up, especially the scene with Christian and jack in the church. I even got a tattoo of that scene in his memory. Yesterday was his birthday. Tomorrow is Christmas, his fav holiday. So I was already upset and was hoping the movie would help cheer me up. The second they started playing the finale music and showed the church scene I immediately teared up.

    I knew this wasn’t going to be a 40 year old virgin gross out comedy, but was really not expecting to come out this depressed.

  • http://InDefenseofFunnyPeople Justin

    “Funny People” was one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Darker comedy works for me, so I get a little peeved when Judd Apatow gets shit for making good movies like “Funny People” and “Get him to the Greek” that have a darker edge. If you are smart, young, and come from some type of broken background like divorce, I think you are drawn to

  • Charlie Ward

    @ Steve: Yeah, didn’t it originate with M*A*S*H* or something?

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