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Bill Murray does the mid-life crisis thing again with This is 40 By Richard Crouse Metro Canada Wednsday December 19, 2012

gal-groundhog-day-murray2Forty isn’t old, but Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, the leads in the new Judd Apatow comedy This is 40, are confronting middle age and not always liking what they see.

Mid-life ruts have supplied the basis for many movies.

The best-known age-angst film has to be American Beauty. Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey, who won a best actor Oscar for his work) has a classic case of the mid-life blues. Depressed, he allows himself to be pushed around by his employer and his wife and he’s developed an unhealthy crush on his daughter’s friend. To restart his life, he quits his job, blackmails his boss and deals with his wife’s infidelity.

“I feel like I’ve been in a coma for the past 20 years,” he says. “And I’m just now waking up.”

Things don’t work out well for Lester, but weatherman Phil Connors’s (Bill Murray) mid life crisis has a better outcome.

At the beginning of Groundhog Day he’s a drunk, suicide prone curmudgeon who sums up his outlook like this, “I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.”

When he starts living the same day over and over again, however, he begins to see the beauty of life.

Bill Murray is also forced to reflect on his existence in Broken Flowers, when he receives a mysterious letter telling him of a son he didn’t know about.

“Well, the past is gone, I know that,” he says. “The future isn’t here yet, whatever it’s going to be. So, all there is, is this. The present. That’s it.”

Mid-life crises aren’t the domain of men, however.

In The Bridges of Madison County, Meryl Streep plays Francesca, an Iowa housewife who shatters the midlife doldrums by having a brief but meaningful affair with National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid (played by Clint Eastwood). Of her affair she says, “everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before.”

The best-loved mid-life movie might be Shirley Valentine, the bittersweet tale of an English housewife who leaves her humdrum existence behind for a happier life in the Greek islands.

“I used to be The Mother,” she says. “I used to be The Wife. But now I’m Shirley Valentine again.”

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