This Is 40

Directed by Judd Apatow. With Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Albert Brooks

Experience speaks here

by gaRis (@takisgaris)

It took me somewhat 25 years to realize that, unlike with drama or other genres, comedy demands a certain state of mind to be thoroughly enjoyed and even more so to be appreciated. For example, now that I have finally outgrown Wedding Crashers I am convinced that it clearly struck a chord in times of self- indulgent bachelor’s thrills. So, back in the day (*blush*) I gave it a four star review. When a comedy resonates, it’s unquestionably magic. When a comedy hits you that hard it merely doesn’t matter if the source happens to be another chain of grossed out, man-childish, and derivative gags by the Judd Apatow (Knocked-Up, 40 year old Virgin) school of R-rated comedy. Especially when you can literally breathe originality, keen observation and ample characterization of what is notoriously labelled “midlife crisis”. This is not achieved by casting his real life spouse Leslie Mann (Debbie) and daughters Maude and Iris opposite his onscreen alter ego Paul Rudd (Pete) in a sort of sequel to Knocked- Up. It is accomplished by reaching for the universal truth of aging, in person or in a relationship, offering a setting which is essentially of right here-right now value. Killer comedic riffs, referencing pop culture to the point that bet you, it will age gracefully amongst repetitive viewings.

Some may not easily identify themselves with the financial pseudo-crisis of an upper class Californian family but Apatow never hid his class origins neither would he be true to himself by distorting his auto-biographical take on this sex-drugs and parenthood opus. I particularly adored the not quite exemplar co-stars’ parents, namely Albert Brooks, a leech sucking on Pete’s quilt and John Lithgow, clueless Debbie’s estranged father who steal the show in their scenes together. All the more, Melissa McCarthy is relentlessly funny as the bullied mother of a bullied child, as bullied both by impregnated Debbie and inconsiderate Pete. Don’t miss the outtake as soon as the end credits start rolling; she’s Hilarious. And that’s what I see as Apatow’s grand career achievement; He’s stuck with his Freaks and Geeks gang (add Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill), has enlivened a totally owned comedy sub-genre (”raunchy” anyone?) and now is attempting to step it up a notch, successfully enough, in a project that could easily expose him instead of elevating his game. It’s called guts.

Conclusion: That being said, the movie could easily be trimmed, 20-30 minutes the least. Long takes and repetitive points may gain in familiarity with our heroic 40-ish couple but lose heavily pace and gravity, trying to nail down the story’s commercial appeal. All that is forgiven though, thanks to some great Lost, iPad and haemorrhoid jokes which propel some hard earned laughter through a series of really stressful situations that manifest themselves ironically when you reach that age of 40 something. Experience speaks here. By the way, Megan Fox is cherry on the top – like, or plainly super- hot in a party- loving, occasional- escort type of role. Aren’t you sold on This Is 40 yet?

World Premiere: 20 December 2012

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