Posts Tagged ‘This is 40’


wall_desktop_1920x1080_a01“This is 40,” the new film from one-man comedy machine Judd Apatow, contains all the elements you expect from a midlife comedy—Viagra jokes, the ogling of younger women, cholesterol, and the perils of familiarity—and a few things you don’t, like a supporting role from semi-forgotten 70s rocker Graham Parker, a careful examination of Meghan Fox’s breasts and some genuine emotion.

The movie takes place in the week between Pete and Debbie’s (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprising their roles from “Knocked Up”) fortieth birthdays. Using his patented mix of humor, heart and vulgarity, the director explores the couple’s life as they approach the milestone.

It soon becomes clear that age isn’t the only issue in their lives. Although Debbie constantly lies about how old she is, larger problems include constantly warring kids (Maude and Iris Apatow)—“I can handle a nightmare,” the younger one says to her sister. “You’re a nightmare everyday for me.”—an empty bank account made worse by a freeloading father (Albert Brooks), an embezzling employee and relationship doubts triggered by Debbie’s loaded question, “If I hadn’t gotten pregnant fourteen years ago, would we still be together?”

Let’s not forget, however, that this is a comedy, so mixed into this study of midlife disappointment are some keenly honed and very funny observations. It’s a blend of heart and humor, frequently in the same scene, and often in the same sentence.

Pete, who runs a failing record company—he turned down Arcade Fire and is now pinning his hopes on a revival of Graham Parker—tends to speak in music metaphors. “We’re like Simon and Garfunkle,” he says to Debbie, “and you turned me into Garfunkle.” It’s a funny line, delivered well, but also a loaded one that places his unhappiness front and center and it is that kind of writing and performance that makes you laugh and cringe at the same time.

This is an ensemble comedy of sorts, featuring Apatow Repertory Company regulars like Chris O’Dowd (who brightens every scene he appears in), Jason Segel, Lena Dunham (he produces her HBO show “Girls”) and Melissa McCarthy, and some newcomers to the fold like Brooks, John Lithgow and Graham Parker (who gamely allows himself to be the butt of jokes) but the center of the film is the work of Rudd and Mann.

Rudd brings his comic chops and likeability but there’s also a deep undercurrent of resentment and dissatisfaction running through the character of Pete that elevates him from stock character to believable person.

Mann also has a way with a line but far from being the stereotypical wife character she steals the movie with a performance that is by times vulnerable—a scene with a hockey player who doesn’t realize she is married is funny but framed with real emotion—then fierce—watch her smack down a kid who’s been taunting her daughter on line—and then sensitive—same scene with the kid. It’s multifaceted work that steals most of the scenes she appears in.

“This is 40” is a tad long and episodic—like snapshots from Pete and Debbie’s life—and loses some steam in its final twenty minutes, but its keenly observed look at a strained marriage has rewards that far outweigh the extended running time.

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.”