This is 40 (2012)

I recently set out on a quest to watch every Judd Apatow film. This turned out to be an easier  task than I had anticipated because it turns out he’s only directed 4 movies. He’s written and produced plenty but only directed 4. So I went through his films loving all of them including “Funny People” which many people don’t like, but that’s a review for a different day. I finished the set with “This is 40” so I figured I might as well talk about it.

Judd Apatow is known for making movies that resonate specifically with a designated age group. The age group in this case being 40. I’ve heard a lot of criticism about his films saying that you need to be from his generation to understand his movies, but that is certainly not the case. I may be 16 but I have the mindset of a 40 year old. I had a midlife crisis at 12.

I hate most modern music, I find it disgraceful. I think that the dependence on technology is ridiculous. I found myself always siding and sympathizing with Paul Rudd’s character, even when he’s hating today’s youth. I hate most of today’s youth even if I’m a part of it. I can understand Judd Apatow’s films even if they aren’t targeted towards me.

knocked upI love the cast of this film. Judd Apatow is one of those directors who has a particular set of actors on call for all his films. I really like when directors do that. It’s cool to see the same actors and director work on different projects. The main characters in this film are actually the same characters for one of his previous films: “Knocked Up“. Hence the tagline “The sort of sequel to knocked up”.

Leslie Mann played the sister to the female lead in “Knocked Up”, and now she’s the female lead in her own film. We also have Paul Rudd and the kids coming over from the other film. The main family in “This is 40” is played mostly by Apatow’s actually family. Just switch out Paul Rudd for him and there you go.

'An Evening with Judd Apatow & Leslie Mann'
‘An Evening with Judd Apatow & Leslie Mann’ (Photo credit: Canadian Film Centre)

Leslie Mann is his wife and the children in the film are his actual children. You can tell that the youngest isn’t much of an actress, which leads to some very awkward line delivery and some eye contact with the camera, but it honestly doesn’t hurt the film, it almost makes her lines funnier. The older sister though, she does a great job. She’s only worked for her father thus far, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her branch out to some other films and pursue acting as a career.

Paul Rudd at Hollywood Life Magazine’s 7th Ann...

Paul Rudd is great. He’s very funny and can also go dramatic when the scene calls for. He pulls off both sides of the spectrum rather well. It’s weird but every time I see a movie with Paul Rudd in it, I immediately think his performance is weak, but after 5-10 minutes that opinion changes for the positive. I guess he’s just an actor I had to warm up to.

Leslie Mann is fantastic. She’s very funny and completely believable in the role. She’s honestly one of my favorite actresses. Her role in this film bounces back and forth between comedy and drama and she manages to handle the transitions with grace.

Judd Apatow films are always heavily grounded in reality. His films are what I like to call real life comedies. Some people are turned off by the dramatic elements in his films, but real life can be dramatic, it can also be funny. His films show life how it is, no fake “movie” glaze over everything. He has a way of writing and directing that makes the characters feel very real. They feel like actual people instead of characters. His characters live in the real world. There’s lots of very current pop culture references, which at times seems like really strange product placement, but in the end just adds to the realism. His films do all tend to have a familiar love and comedy story arc, aside from “Funny People”. Although I suppose maybe the love isn’t of a person in that film, but instead a tangible love of comedy.

The main cast is great and there are a lot of good supporting actors as well. John Lithgow has a side character, and he’s always great. My favorite role from him was as a serial killer on a season of “Dexter“. Chris O’Dowd has a small role and I think he’s hilarious. I know him best from the british show “The IT Crowd“. There are a lot of good side characters and Judd Apatow Regulars, it is however his first film without Seth Rogen.

this is 40This is 40” is very funny, but is also very dramatic. I’m really surprised by all the negative reviews for This is 40. I thought it was great, I actually kind of loved it, and when I’m 40 and I watch it again I’ll probably just love it even more. I think the negative reviews stem from the dramatic aspects of the film. It’s true that “This is 40” can get pretty heavy at points, but it works as a drama. The characters are well established and it all feels so real that the relationship drama works.

The strong performances and great direction make for a great drama as well as a great comedy.  It’s like getting 2 films for the price of one, which is doubly true when taking the long runtime into account. Long movies have never bothered me as long as they don’t drag or outstay their welcome, and while all Apatow films are pretty long, I’m never seeking for an quick end from them.

I’m a big fan of Judd Apatow’s work. I think he has carved out his own niche and has mastered it. You can see similar themes and motifs throughout his films. “This is 40” is like “Knocked Up” because it’s the same characters. It’s like The “40 Year Old Virgin” because they’re both about 40 year olds and both end with the male lead going on a suicidal bike ride through traffic and ending in a violent crash. It’s similar to “Funny People” because… well I guess because they’re both very dramatic and can get quite sad at times. He’s certainly moved closer to drama with each successive film, but I don’t mind at all. I just hope he can maintain a good balance between the two genres. I look forward to his next film.


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