I’m still living in hope that this years’ comedic offerings won’t be as disappointing as last years’. I Give it a Year didn’t meet my unrealistically high expectations; The Hangover Part III didn’t live up to my incredibly low expectations and I just couldn’t bring myself to watch Movie 43 - especially after enduring 2012s’ awful Keith Lemon: The Film. As a huge fan of Paul Rudd and Judd Apatow, I thought that This is 40 could be the one comedy this year so far that is worthy of the genre. After all, I Love You, Man has made it into my list of my all time favourite films: I only need to think of slappin‘ da bass and a stupid smirk spreads across my face. This is 40 is no bromance, but it is an honest, frank and at times painful look at marriage: a surprisingly mature follow-up to Knocked Up.
Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are turning 40. Rather than it being a time for celebration, they are verging on a dual mid-life crisis. The classic combination of debt, unruly children and generally getting old results in a swell of unhappiness. Pete’s record label is failing; Debbie is unable to come to terms with her age, which only adds to their difficulties. Come Pete’s birthday party, the couple rely on friends, family, colleagues, personal trainers and, of course, each other to adjust to life at 40.
There has been a joke going around that This is 40 is 40 minutes too long; there is a shred of truth in that statement. At two hours and 14 minutes, Apatow’s comedy rivals the Oscar nominated biopics earlier this year in its length. Even some of the most exciting stories in cinema have been let down by a far too extended cut. Still, the director’s familiar comedy is a welcome return to the big screen; so much so that it’s easy to forgive him for a film that stretches just a little beyond a comfortable running time.
Apatow’s decision to cast his own family in This is 40 certainly paid off: his daughters as Charlotte and Maud are adorable, charming and conventional respectively; his wife as Debbie is the perfect comedic partner to Rudd’s Pete. It’s a personal, warm and slightly vulnerable work that still has time for fart jokes. This combination of self-indulgence, insight and familiarity from his back catalogue that makes This is 40 a refreshing comedy. It’s a shame that the few memorable moments are lost in the chaos leading up to the climax.
This is 40 is out to own on 24 June 2013