This Is 40
BY MICHAEL WALTERS
THE CANTANKEROUS CRITIC
If you don’t laugh at “This Is 40,” you just might cry. It’s one of the funniest films of the year, but also an unvarnished and brutal look at just how hard a relationship can be. An undercurrent of bittersweet pragmatism runs through it.
The husband and wife at the center of it all (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprising their roles from Knocked Up) may not like each other all that much these days, but they’ve gone this far and it makes more sense to soldier on than start over.
Apatow’s film is driven more by a series of situations and vignettes than any kind of overarching plot. If anything, Apatow tries to cram too much material into the movie.
Mann runs a clothing shop which is missing a large amount of money, and she suspects a sexy employee (Megan Fox) of stealing. Rudd started his own record label as a home for his favorite old rockers, but has run into the cold hard fact that no one buys the old guys’ new stuff.
The ace in the hole this time around is Albert Brooks as Rudd’s deadbeat dad. He’s always looking for a handout, but has some real affection for his son. He’s remarried, and now has three young kids of his own who he can’t tell apart.
His acerbic delivery and outlook on life, which pretty much amounts to “life is a crock, but what can you do?” turns nearly every line into comedic gold. These aren’t just punchlines. These are jokes that find the pain behind the laugh.
Nearly matching Brooks laugh for laugh is Chris O’Dowd, as a snarky employee of Rudd’s. And John Lithgow turns in fine work as Mann’s distant disconnected father, who’s not as put together as everyone thinks he is.
Even though Rudd and Mann are supposed to be having money troubles, they seem to spend a lot on vacations and elaborate birthday parties. Editing isn’t one of Apatow’s strong suits. Although the original cut was reportedly close to 4 hours, this one is maybe still a little too long, but it is weaves the culture we live in beautifully into its characters’ lives to give everyone a real lived in feel.
So what if they stay a little longer than you’d expect them to? I enjoyed the company.