Review: This is 40

Judd Apatow revisits Knocked Up‘s Pete and Debbie in an unfiltered look at American family life. But can this light-hearted drama match up to its predecessor? James Salver finds out.

This is 40, the new Rom-com from writer/director/producer Judd Apatow (The 40 year-old Virgin, Funny People), explores the story of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), two characters from the comedy hit Knocked Up. The film lets us take a look at how middle age and financial problems can put a strain on marriage and family life.

If you are planning on seeing This is 40 because you liked its predecessor, be warned it is a completely different style of film. If you are expecting to leave the cinema holding a busted gut from uncontrollable laughter then you may find yourself feeling disappointed. However, if you go to watch this film with an open mind and try to see it as a stand-alone film, you will be pleasantly surprised.

This is 40 is far less of a laugh-out-loud comedy and much more of a light hearted drama. This is not to say that the film is without funny moments – Paul Rudd laying on the bed spread eagled with a magnifying glass held to his man cave was (to say the least) hysterical. The comedy, for the most part, was just a lot more subtle and tame but this made the film a lot more engaging and enjoyable to watch.

One of the issues the film explores is family disputes in everyday life and the relationships shown on screen were fantastic, believable and a pleasure to watch due to the chemistry of the cast. Alongside Apatow’s wife playing Debbie, both the children in the film Sadie and Charlotte are played by their real-life daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow. This allows the on-screen relationships to flow naturally.

Even though the film boasts a great cast, the use of its supporting actors is a little unnecessary, with a somewhat pointless appearance of Chris O’Dowd as Pete’s work colleague, Ronnie. The most baffling of the cast is Jason Segel who reprises his role Jason. The bizarre thing is the character has completely changed and is not once referenced to being in the previous film.

The main problem from which the film suffers is length; at a staggering 134 minutes it sadly does begin to drag towards the end and I found myself looking forward to it to being over.

Having said that, if you have the time to sit through This is 40 and totally disassociate it from Knocked Up, I am sure you will find it as quirky and enjoyable as I did.

★★★☆☆

James Salver

This is 40 is out now.

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