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New Release Review - This is 40

Directed by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow

Spin-off from Apatow's 'Knocked Up'.

Debbie (Mann) and Pete (Rudd), the couple we were first introduced to in 2007's 'Knocked Up', are both about to turn 40 in the same week. Pete is apathetic about the situation but Debbie refuses to acknowledge it, instead pretending she is turning 38. The couple are facing financial meltdown as their respective businesses, Debbie's boutique and Pete's record label, are both struggling to break even. This places a strain on their marriage as the couple make various attempts to revitalize their stagnating relationship.
In the nineties, Apatow was responsible for some of the greatest episodes of 'The Larry Sanders Show' as well as creating that decade's most under-appreciated T.V series, 'Freaks & Geeks'. Since he's moved onto feature films his career, in terms of quality, has taken a remarkable nosedive. So far we've had the moronic 'The 40 Year Old Virgin', and the rambling pretension of 'Knocked Up' and 'Funny People'. His latest follows in the vein of his previous two, a 134 minute work of unbridled smugness and nepotism. If you have the choice between watching 'This is 40' and your neighbor's home movies, choose the latter; it'll be less self-indulgent.
"Never work with children and animals" goes the old showbiz adage. "Family and friends" should be added in Apatow's case. Anyone who casts Jason Segel as a fitness instructor is clearly indulging his mates too much. As if this wasn't bad enough, Apatow casts his own wife and kids as Rudd's. It's telling that their scenes ramble on and on while Rudd's are relatively trim. I guess the director figured if he cut his wife and kid's scenes he may never get laid again.
The film has an improvisational feel and this is its greatest burden. Apatow allows non-comic actors far too much time to indulge themselves. Laughs are extremely thin on the ground. I counted no more than a handful of amusing moments and they all came courtesy of Albert Brooks, the one genuine comic talent in the ensemble. While it fails as a comedy, in dramatic terms it fares no better. "You look like a couple from a bank commercial" an angry mother at one point yells at Pete and Debbie, and we can't help but agree. These aren't remotely real people. How can they afford to live in an L.A mansion if their "businesses" are such disasters. At a time when many Americans are eating out of trash cans, it's an incredibly insulting look at the financial crisis. Pete and Debbie are the sort of people who got us into this mess, are we really expected to care about these idiots?
American comedy, and Jewish comedy in particular, is a dying art. Insight and self-deprecation have been replaced by cruelty and crudeness. The cruelty here takes the form of a despicable scene where an Indian doctor has his accent mocked by Pete. The crudeness comes courtesy of a litany of ass and fart gags. The culture which gave us Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Larry David now gives us Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller. Oi Vey indeed!
4/10
This Is 40 (2012) on IMDb 6.3/10


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