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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
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Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Leslie Mann
Paul Rudd
John Lithgow
Megan Fox
Albert Brooks

Jason Segel
Chris O'Dowd.
Directors
Judd Apatow.
Screenwriters
Judd Apatow.
Running Time
134 minutes

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This Is 40
Skits from a marriage


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Plot
On the eve of their 40th birthdays, Pete (Rudd) and his wife Debbie (Mann) re-examine their relationship with their children, their parents and each other, while bankruptcy looms for Pete’s record label.


Review
This Is 40
Let's face it, the 'plot' of Judd Apatow’s latest comedy isn’t as instantly grabby as Knocked Up, the hit 2007 film to which This Is40 is billed as a “sort-of sequel”, despite the absence of that film’s stars, Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen, and the elevation of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s real-life missus) to centre stage. In fact, there’s precious little plot to speak of — even less than Apatow’s last film as writer-director, 2009’s critically lauded but publicly derided Funny People. Those less than amused by that film were apt to blame Apatow’s loosey-goosey, semi-improvisational style for its patience-testing running time and narrative tangents, while those who loved it — this magazine included — would have been happy to spend another hour with Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and others of the Apatow ensemble. In one sense, This Is 40 falls somewhere between the two films: while not as plot-driven or broadly targeted as Knocked Up (and even less so than The 40 Year-Old Virgin), it is less ramshackle and more relatable than Funny People, a film which, in retrospect, seems to have set out the stall for Apatow’s future output, focusing more on tugging the heart strings than tickling the ribs.

In Knocked Up, record label executive Pete (Rudd) and his wife Debbie (Mann) were having low-grade marital difficulties, largely stemming from man-child Pete’s unwillingness to accept his fate as a husband and father of two children, Sadie and Charlotte (played, in further reality-blurring, by Apatow’s own girls, Maude and Iris), and Debbie’s resentment towards Pete for various transgressions, including sneaking off to play fantasy baseball. Five years on, their issues are a little more serious; not exactly life-threatening, more lifestyle-threatening. Pete’s failing business — started, he reveals tellingly, because he couldn’t get a job — and the debts incurred by his mooching father (a pitch-perfect Albert Brooks) means the family home may have to be sold. Meanwhile, Debbie has to deal with an employee (a breezy Megan Fox) who may be stealing from her jewellery shop, and a daughter being bullied on Facebook, even as she struggles to connect with the two emotionally distant men in her life: not only her husband, but also her estranged father (John Lithgow).

Such issues may be of little interest to the traditional demographic of Apatow’s ‘early, funny films’. To anyone close to the age milestone of the title, however, This Is 40 has a true-to-life feel that places it closer in spirit to Parenthood than the faux-family atmosphere of the Focker films. Although one might expect the absence of Knocked Up’s Alison and Ben to be keenly felt (at one point, Pete does play iPad scrabble with Ben), what makes the central pair’s problems worthy of their own film is a combination of Apatow’s script and the down-to-earth performances, especially from the Apatow clan. Wondering which elements were directly drawn from their own family life adds an additional level of intrigue.

Not everything works: Chris O’Dowd and Girls’ Lena Dunham (as Pete’s work colleagues), and Jason Segel (one of Ben’s feckless friends in Knocked Up, now Debbie’s personal trainer), seem to exist primarily to provide some slacker-scatological laughs, while the jewellery-store subplot adds to the pervasive feeling that we’re watching an extended edition. Despite these shortcomings, and the lengthy running time, This Is 40 has enough laugh-out-loud moments to make it an early contender for comedy of the year.


Verdict
With his fourth film as writer-director, Judd Apatow has arguably made his most personal film yet, without forgetting to make us laugh.


Reviewed by David Hughes

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for This Is 40
Empire Star Rating

RE: This Is 40

Thought it was OK - an improvement on Funny People, but it doesn't really have much of a plotline, it gets to the end and you just think 'hmmm....OK...'. It didn't drag but it was too long, Apatow could have cut all the scenes about Lost for starters (and probably all of the Graham Parker scenes too), but then when you're the writer/producer/director and your wife and children all have major roles, there's probably not many people that are going to be able to/have the balls to tell you your ... More

Posted by Indio at 11:52, 17 February 2013 | Report This Post


Some funny moments and Paul Rudd is always good but it was so long and his kids were so annoying that it felt like Id spent a weekend in Judd Apatow's house during which his wife had repeatedly shown me her boobs, very weird ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wlucas at 18:50, 15 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: This Is 40

Could've done with 20-30 minutes being shaved off. ... More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 10:29, 15 February 2013 | Report This Post


RE: This Is 40

I thought it started out ropey but turned out pretty damn funny. It was a tad over long but there was definitely some funny moments. Melissa McCarthy has the single funniest scene though, still makes me laugh thinking about it. Maybe not 4 stars for me, more like 3.5 if that was possible. ... More

Posted by Chief at 09:02, 15 February 2013 | Report This Post


Pot movie

I understand that it is one of these American pot smoke fun movies you have to smoke pot to laugh on but I am drug free and I live in Europe. Not my family not anyone else's would act like that. This is typical immature act comedy that somehow is supposed to make us laugh. The same goes for most recent american comedies, Bridesmaids, bad teacher, horrible bosses, ted, hangover etc. 4 stars? Empire are you smoking too? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by smakris04 at 16:33, 13 February 2013 | Report This Post


toxically bloated, unsympathetic, cringeworthy

Overlong, horrible characters, frustrating waste of talented actors... plus all the dialogue sounds too similar. None of the humour of Knocked Up. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fireflyfox at 21:22, 11 February 2013 | Report This Post


Enjoyed this!

Thought it was surprisingly good, could have easily been crap. Slightly long, could have taken 20mins off the duration. On par with Knocked up ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gavc1978 at 09:33, 11 February 2013 | Report This Post


Enjoyed this!

Thought it was surprisingly good, could have easily been crap. Slightly long, could have taken 20mins off the duration. On par with Knocked up ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gavc1978 at 09:33, 11 February 2013 | Report This Post


This is... AWFUL

While much of the advertising has made this out to be a comedy it is far from that! I cam out of this bored, disappointed and would've been very angry if I had to pay for this movie (my friend paid for me to go). The only saving grace is I get to choose the next film we see! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by J_BUltimatum at 09:22, 11 February 2013 | Report This Post


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