“All of a sudden we’re a magnet of negativity. What did we do?”
Cast: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Maude Apatow.
Pete and Debbie have a very tedious, back and forth relationship. Hitting their forties has put a strain on their relationship and the rut they have found themselves in doesn’t help matters. With issues to do with money, sex and family life, it would seem these characters are going through what any couple of 15 years inevitably will – with a bit of added entertainment just for us.
I’ve always liked Paul Rudd, and Leslie Mann was great to watch in Knocked Up, so I thought we were in for a real treat with this film. However it’s safe to say the kids gave me more laughs than the grown-ups. With the chemistry they conceived in Knocked Up, Rudd and Mann try their hardest to get back to this point in This is 40, though I think the more time they spend on screen together, the weaker they look as a couple.
The issues confronted in the film are classic to any middle-aged comedy, and it would seem that it would instantly allow it to become very open and relatable to an audience. But it doesn’t. The fickle relationship woes and massive range of attitudes shared between the two is enough to drive anyone mad, and no one wants to relate to that. One minute they are happy, the next they are arguing, there is no consistency and it means the film falls flat in the drama department. I understand that this is because they are having a tough time in their marriage, but if just one main character could have held themselves to one value, the film could have been built up around this. But due to them both being so back and forth, there was no foundation to build from making the whole message fall through.
Unfortunately, due to this, I feel that pretty much everyone was un-sympathiseable in the film. The only one I actually felt I could relate to was Sadie, their eldest kid, and that was only because of her Lost addiction. The performances were all quite hollow and being a drama as well as a comedy, I expected a few heavier and serious scenes, though these were few and far between. It should also be noted that a film where Jason Segel has more witty lines than the main characters, even though he isn’t at the forefront of the film, shows that it has missed a trick right there. This is where the film falls flat in the comedy department.
With no leg to stand on, and sitting at over 2 hours, way too long for any film of this nature, you just have to sit back and bear it. Without any solid strings to its bow, the fragmented story is just too fickle to work for an audience. Jumping between the genres rather than interlacing them, sometimes it seems as though we’re watching 2 separate films. If one genre was more concentrated on maybe the film would have had better direction. I wouldn’t suggest you go out of your way to see this film. In comparison to Knocked Up, This is 40 just doesn’t really compare. Very disappointing.
Star rating: 3.5/10
Directed by Judd Apatow.
Running time 134 minutes.