Judd Apatow has built a career on characters enduring a quest for maturity. And it seems with his most recent features, the director himself has been on that same journey. But in chasing a superlative like "his most mature work to date," which some critics will no doubt be fooled into praising this film as, the director demonstrates that he still doesn't really understand what being a grown-up is all about.
What's good about Apatow is his sense of balance, portraying characters dealing with real life issues, who are able to still have humor in their lives. With "This Is 40" there are hearty helpings of humor, but the cutting sense of "realism" Apatow tries to achieve is hardly realistic. Simply put, Judd Apatow's sense of reality is very different from that of most of the people who will be watching this film.
The main characters of "This Is 40," Pete and Debbie, were introduced to audiences as supporting roles in "Knocked Up," who in their brief screen time had a relatable affability about them. But when we are given more than a glimpse into their lives here, there isn't much more to them. Pete (Paul Rudd) runs a floundering indie record label and Debbie (Leslie Mann) runs a boutique. On the eves of their 40th birthdays they are in the midst of financial crises and early midlife crises (Debbie pretends she's only turning 38). These difficulties are putting strains on their marriage. This sounds like some heavy stuff, and it is, but it's hard to feel bad for these characters when they're driving around in BMWs that they don't even consider selling. The actors are fine, but as characters Pete and Debbie don't earn the happy ending that inexplicably wraps everything up.
If you go
‘This Is 40’
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks