“This is 40”, the“sorta” sequel to “Knocked up”, is “sorta”terrible and when I say sorta, I mean a lot. So many movies, TV shows, and even prior Judd Apatow films have tried to sitcomize the pitfalls of marriage to the point where it’s been done to death. Being that this was an Apatow flick, I was hoping he would have a fresh take, but this is without question his worse film and one of the worse of the year, too.
Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann play Pete and Debbie, the other married couple from “Knocked up” whom you didn’t care nearly as much about, but at least that movie was funny so you didn’t mind as much. They’re in a state of constant argument; about the kids, about Pete lending his father (Albert Brooks) money, about eating healthy and working out, about music, about not spending enough time together, about how he thinks Viagra gives him a “turbo penis” but it makes her feel old.
I kept waiting for the flashback scene where we find out why these two people like each other in the first place but it never comes and we wonder if this was maybe an arranged marriage gone wrong. They just don’t seem to get each other at all. The wheels continually turn here but Apatow seems to think that the argument is enough for the joke and it’s not. He also has his own children, Iris and Maude, play the couple’s kids in the movie and they do a lot of shouting as well. Still not funny, but Apatow seems to be trying to make up for that by being shrill and unpleasant.
Even his attempts at raunch seem desperate, like a scene where Pete lays spread-eagle on the bed holding a mirror up to his ass to examine it for hemorrhoids and his wife then walks in.
And what makes it worse is that it’s all based around the randomness of the encounters Rudd and Mann have with each other as well as with Brooks, John Lithgow (playing Debbie’s long lost dad), and a series of Apatow regulars. The meager plot has something to do with Pete managing a record label where trying to keep aging rocker Graham Parker relevant is all he seems to do and Debbie manages a clothing store where her beautiful salesgirl (Megan Fox) is having sex after hours and may be stealing from the store. Otherwise it’s all just free-floating and at two hours and twenty minutes run time these people are allowed way too much freedom.
The Apatow brand is all about using past collaborators and “This is 40” is no different. Jason Segal, Lena Dunham, Charlyne Yi, Chris O’Dowd, and Mellisa McCarthy all make cameos, all of which prove Apatow always considers these movies to be family affairs but why put them in just for the hell of it? Segal plays a fitness trainer, I can’t even remember what Dunham’s job is but she works with Pete, Yi is a salesgirl, O’Dowd is an assistant of Petes, and Mellisa McCarthy plays an angry parent who curses and says funny things like “I’m so happy your husband is dead”, or not.
“This is 40” is the first of Apatow’s films where any actual jokes seem elusive.