Weighing in at a lumpy 134 minutes, writer-director Judd Apatow’s This Is 40 teeters perilously close to vanity movie territory.
Director: Judd Apatow
MPAA Rating: (R)
Studio: Apatow Pictures
Weighing in at a lumpy 134 minutes, writer-director Judd Apatow’s This Is 40 teeters perilously close to vanity movie territory. Not only does it star Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann as well as their daughters Maude and Iris, but Apatow also recently admitted that he purposely never strayed more than several blocks when filming it. No wonder the movie feels like it cuts very close to home. That’s fine, but the “world” of the movie is a bubble populated by whiny, self-absorbed, upper middle class, stylishly dressed, biking, jogging, Sprinkles cupcake–guzzling L.A. west siders.
Paul Rudd plays a record executive who isn’t certain he likes turning 40 any more than his wife (Mann) does. Their insufferable kids are spoiled, Rudd’s music business is crapping out, an employee is siphoning cash from Mann’s posh clothing boutique, Rudd’s father (Albert Brooks) has been mooching a small fortune from his son and the couple might have to sell their posh, sprawling house. Oh, and occasionally, Rudd and Mann hate each other and plot each other’s deaths.
And so it goes in a series of repetitive scenes from a marriage, some of them involving hemorrhoids, mammograms, Viagra, bodily functions and no longer perky breasts, most of them feeling like a sometimes excruciatingly personal reality TV show, Meet the Apatows. But the great stuff in the movie—and there is plenty of it—is served up by the quicksilver, funny and touching performances from Rudd and Mann, who go for broke in every scene. There are also dead-on, sometimes painful comic bits from the Apatows’ smart, likable, talented friends like Chris O’Dowd, Annie Mumolo, Charlyne Li and Melissa McCarthy. There’s fun stuff from Megan Fox, too, as Mann’s hottest employee, one with a secret life. Meanwhile, Brooks, untethered and probably improvisatory, delivers a brilliantly funny, possibly career-best turn.
Even when it refuses to end, even when its characters are so busy navel-gazing that you want to scream at them, “Go do something unselfish for a poor, needy animal or human, for Chrissake!” This Is 40 is almost consistently funny, wise and relatable.