Jan. 02, 2013 - Issue #898: Apocalypse Not?
This is 40Judd Apatow’s comedies often involve stand-up riffs on a subject, dropped into a movie. And so This Is 40 begins, from a routine about “why does my hubbie need Viagra to do me?” to a conversation about imagining your wife dead so you'll be a fuck-able widower. Other sequences, like eating a pot cookie while at a posh resort, re-puff old clichés.
When stress, one of the ingredients of actual film comedy (not a late-night spot at a Yuk Yuks session), finally crackles along, the story of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) gets funnier and friskier. Their efforts to parent their teen (Maude Apatow) are amusingly frustrated, especially as they try to monitor her online life. Pete's self-colon-check-up's unforgettable. Most scenes with Albert Brooks, as Pete's dad—a dad again now, way too late in life—and Chris O'Dowd, as Pete's colleague, offer lots of laughs. (Still, the movie's over-long at 130 minutes.)
Pete and Debbie, uninterestingly, live in a bubbled-off world in LA. As the pair near their 40ths, he's still secretly snacking on cupcakes and she keeps sneaking a smoke in the backyard. He won't reveal the truth of their finances; she can't figure out who's taking money from her boutique. Should they downgrade from their huge LA home? (Duh. How about downgrading from your Lexus SUV and BMW, too?)
But then Apatow slips the satirical knife in under our tickled ribs, exposing some of the shallowness and solipsism of these white Angelenos. Pete and Debbie casually lie their way out of a meeting with the principal after they told off a lower-class parent, who rightly sees them as a “fucking bank commercial couple.” Soon after, the pair of 40-year-olds affirm to each other, “It's not us, it's them.”
Only it's just a moment that's left behind. And, after the movie’s moments where it seems Apatow’s just being breezily indulgent—a cheap Indian-accent mockery, star-dropping some musicians and NHL players, ads for Apple, having a character tell your real-life wife's character she's still really hot, some camera-ogling of Megan Fox—it all makes This Is 40 seem like having your cupcake and eating it, too.
Directed by Judd Apatow
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