This is 40
A Screenplay So Boring It Relies on – – –
Review written by Robert Patrick
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann
This is 40 isn’t raunchy, clever, spiked with zingers or braised with shenanigans. There aren’t saucers of weed smoke or tweeting bird blackouts, either. The film is contemplative and observational. This is 40 is like Steve Martin’s Parenthood as directed by Judd Apatow. The humor has a muzzle around its previously salivating fangs, and everything feels droll, expected, lobotomized. The marketing scheme for this particular romantic comedy has beefy block letters that say, ever so breezily, “the not so sequel to Knocked Up” – and it’s true. Some of the characters reprise their rolls from the aforementioned film, only the movie seems like it’s self-cannibalizing.
Pete (Paul Rudd) is still married to Debbie (Leslie Mann). Their two children (played by Apatow’s real-life kids) are slightly more grown, but still maddeningly carbonated with spitball dialogue. Paul Rudd cant get out of his affable schlep routine, and ambles around like an anvil is always about to drop on him. Mann crankily wails and furrows her brow, occasionally saying something clever while tilting her head. The chemistry is fine. But that’s the problem. It’s fine and not great. There has to be something else for Rudd to do other than find himself upset on a toilet twice in one year (once in Wanderlust and now in this film). Some whirlwind force is always yanking him by the tie into some terribly awkward position. Yawn. When the saving grace of your film is Jason Segel in a thirty-second swimming pool scene, the rest of your movie is a Pompeii waiting to happen.
The ultimate issue with This is 40 is that the movie seems comprised of footage left on the cutting room floor from Knocked Up. Nothing in this film merits a two hour running time. When the biggest plot point includes Rudd hoarding cupcakes, there isn’t much saving grace for the film. Most people – powerful entity willing – reach their 40s. There is sure to be some body issues and questions of mortality and, maybe, fledgling economical welfare, but this isn’t the movie to tackle these issues. And if it attempted to deal with them seriously, there, surely, wouldn’t be a scene of Megan Fox having her boob poked by a curious index finger.
A few funny scenes manage to keep their head above an ever emerging waterline, but the entirety of the film feels too tired, five years later, to be relevant. In Apatow’s mind, the recipe is to strike while the iron exists and isn’t necessarily hot. Good intentions don’t always equate to a good movie.