Christmas Weekend Movie Martathon Part I: This is 40
This is the first year that Loretta and I spent the holidays away from both our families, so we had to come up with ways to stay entertained. The weekend leading up to Christmas, we decided to see one new movie every night.
We spent Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee but still wanted to see some flicks. Saturday night we were going to go see The Hobbit, but we messed up the show times and decided to see This is 40 (imdb.com).
This is 40 is the sort-of-sequel to Judd Apatow’s 2007 film, Knocked Up (imdb.com). While it did have its moments, I was very underwhelmed by the almost two and a half hour film. I’m normally a really big fan of Judd Apatow (imdb.com), but This is 40 really falls short as both a drama and a comedy.
It stars Paul Rudd (imdb.com) and Leslie Mann (imdb.com); reprising their roles as Pete and Debbie, a middle-aged couple struggling to hold on to their youth while having to deal with the “realities” of life as an adult. I put realities in quotes because their lives are so far from reality that it makes the comedy hard to connect to.
Paul Rudd as “Pete”
In Knocked Up, Pete’s character is funny without feeling forced, and made for a strong character that was a preview of what life could be for Ben (Seth Rogen’s character). But in This is 40, Rudd felt flat, monotonous, and to put it simply, annoying.
As an actor, Rudd seems to work best when he plays opposite other male characters: like in I Love You, Man (imdb.com) and The 40 Year Old Virgin (imdb.com). This is 40 has other male characters, but they don’t play enough of a role for Rudd to really bounce off them. There’s a point in the film where Rudd even says to his family “God, I wish even one of you had a penis.” And truth be told, I wish so too. Without another man to have “guy humor” with, Rudd just doesn’t do it for me.
Leslie Mann as “Debbie”
I like Leslie Mann. She’s a great supporting actress.
Much like Pete, Debbie was a great preview of what Alison’s (Katherine Heigl) life could become. But as a main character, Debbie falls down the shit-hole with one noted-ness. She’s hands-down the most annoying female character I’ve seen all year. Her character hasn’t changed in the 5 years since Knocked Up and didn’t change at all during the course of This is 40. She’s a whiny, spoiled brat that doesn’t show any depth as a character.
I don’t blame this completely on Ms. Mann though. It’s hard for an actress who hasn’t had many leading roles to carry a poorly written film on her shoulders.
Which brings me to the writing. What the hell has happened to Judd Apatow? Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up, Undeclared, even The 40 Year Old Virgin are all superbly written comedies. They are what I’ve grown to know, love, and expect from Apatow.
But This is 40 has got to be the absolute worst thing I’ve seen from him. It’s chocked full of forced jokes and attempts to mimic the same notes that Knocked Up hit. The problem is that this isn’t Knocked Up and desperately needed to find a voice of its own, and didn’t.
Since its release on December 21 This is 40 has only grossed $37 million. You could blame part of that on being released only a week after The Hobbit (imdb.com), but most of it is due to poor decisions made around the board. If you get a chance to see This is 40 for free, maybe. But don’t pay theater prices to see it.
Have a look at the trailer so you know what I’m talking about: