This Is 40 (15)

A married couple experience hilarious ups and downs in this ‘sort of’ sequel to Knocked Up.

Elevated from their supporting roles in Judd Apatow’s hit Knocked Up, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) now take centre stage.

After years of marriage, the couple are finding it difficult to rekindle that crucial spark that first brought them together. Pete finds it hard to escape to the bathroom for a little privacy whilst Debbie is tired of being the only one putting in the effort to make the marriage work.

They’re also struggling to bring up their bickering kids Sadie and Charlotte (played by Apatow and Mann’s children Maude and Iris), whilst Pete’s dad Larry (Albert Brooks) hits new lows in his attempts to wrangle money from his son.

As the couple hit 40, will Cupid’s arrow find its target once again? The latest outrageous comedy from filmmaker Apatow features his signature blend of gross-out comedy and genuine sweetness.

The movie deals with some grown up issues in a not very grown up way. Who says that just because you’re getting older that you need to mature, to change yourself?

Pete and Debbie have so many unrealistic expectations that the just can’t seem to keep it together. They struggle with their kids, their jobs and their non-existent sex life.

Even though Pete and Debbie’s birthdays occur the same week, they’re only celebrating Pete’s because Debbie wants everybody to think she’s 38. By the way, Debbie and Pete are loaded — or at least, that’s what we’re led to believe, since Pete owns his own record label and Debbie owns a clothing boutique that employs Megan Fox, or a character played by Megan Fox. Either way, she looks like Megan Fox, so everybody wins.

Pete and Debbie also are struggling a bit with their marriage, something that’s perfectly relatable if you’re married or have been in a long relationship. Whether it’s financial issues, sex, boredom, kids, dishonesty or all of the above, Apatow’s brand of blunt and perverse humour with a heart will ring true for many, and that’s when the movie is at its best.

While we might appreciate Pete’s struggle to keep his record company afloat, it’s hard to have empathy for a guy who drives a fancy car, who’s married to a wife who drives a fancy car, who lives in a house in Beverly Hills with a kid who complains about not being able to watch Lost on her iPad (although her obsession with Lost is one of the film’s best jokes).

Maybe Apatow thinks we’ll identify with the humanity in Pete and Debbie’s issues and not be put off by their obvious affluence, but Apatow’s most successful movies have included characters that were relatable and quirky on every level. Yet as likeable as Pete, Debbie and their kids are, they’re also extremely superficial.

This Is 40 is a movie with balls. It’s gritty and truthful, and heck is it funny. It is a true reflection on growing older and still striving to have it all.

By Ruth Walker
★★★☆☆

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