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.
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