Getting old really sucks and Judd Apatow has been aiming at showing you just how much it sucks. Not only by filming incredibly awkward personal situations, but by making movies that feel like they last forever to the point you feel like you could nap somewhere in the middle and not miss much. I don’t want it to sound like too much of a knock against Apatow in general, but his movies are just too damn long and the run times in turn harm the overall effect of the film. THIS IS 40 is an example of that and had it been significantly shorter it could have very well been one of the best comedies of the year.
As the “Sort of sequel to KNOCKED UP” the film follows Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters from that particular Judd Apatow film and their life struggles as they both are turning 40. Pete (Rudd) is struggling to turn his record company into a success because he only signs artists past their prime and ones he admires while also hiding their escalating financial troubles from his wife, Debbie (Mann), who just wants Pete to be attracted to her and wants the passion to return to their relationship. Debbie also is dealing with a problem within a store she has opened where an employee has been stolen a significant amount of the store’s money. Together they have two kids who fight constantly and their oldest is going through a stage where she is extremely mouthy and is dealing with life issues of her own.
To a certain extent the amount of issues Apatow is juggling is admirable and he juggles them very well for about the first hour and a half of the film- but once it hits the hour and a half mark I was ready for it to wind down and wrap up all the different arcs in some fashion. I wouldn’t have complained if any of the stories had just been left open for another film down the road, but pushing forward for an additional hour became a real chore and a lot of the jokes fell flat due to the fact that I was just ready to be done with the characters.
It’s not the fault of the characters or the actors that the run time becomes taxing because they all give the material everything it needs to at least make the last hour watchable. However, compared to the first half of the film the contrast of quality with my willingness to watch it diminished severely. I happen to love Leslie Mann in spite of the annoying aspects her character has, but her chemistry with Rudd’s character when things are going good is fantastic and fun to watch. When things are going bad, their performances and the conflicts are also interesting to watch and plausible- for the most part- if you are at all familiar with the dynamics of a lengthy committed relationship.
The film can be approached from two different perspectives- male and female- and it’s actually a lot of fun to be able to laugh at the relationship humor and nudge your significant other with your elbow when one hits home- something I did quite a bit sitting next to my wife. The other fun part of the humor is a lot of times I’m sure couples can reverse the roles that each other have compared to the characters on screen. There are plenty of laughs out loud jokes and gags many of which feel unscripted, but again the longer the film drags on the laughs become spread farther and farther apart.
THIS IS 40 while overlong and over packed hits on a lot of really interesting and funny real life situations lots of couples likely deal with on a day to day basis. The presentation isn’t quite as emotionally satisfying as it appears Apatow may be reaching for in the end, but works just enough to make it entertaining. The film is hilariously fun at times and yawn inducing towards the end making for an experience that’s more fun than it is frustrating, but frustrating nonetheless.
Written By: Luke (@CrummyLuke on Twitter)