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This is 40

It has long been a Hollywood tradition that Christmas is the time to trot out the feel-good comedies about what a rich and rewarding institution the family is. This is not an inappropriate description of This is 40, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a movie to be watched along with the whole family. If you thought you were going to see a warm-fuzzy inducer like Parental Guidance, you will be immediately chased out of the theater by an opening scene involving marital sex and Viagra that ends with the wife bawling “Fuck 40! Forty can suck my dick!”

That exchange will also clue you in, if you somehow didn’t already know, that this is a new movie from Judd Apatow, probably as big a name as there is at the moment in American comedy. It’s a sequel of sorts to his Knocked Up, but not really: Wanting to make a movie about the pressures that face modern couples in their 40s, he resurrected a pair of supporting characters from that film. They are Pete (Paul Rudd), a music buff who has made his love his hobby by starting an independent record label, and Debbie (Leslie Mann), who owns a clothing store in Beverly Hills. Mann is the real-life Mrs. Apatow, and many of the incidents in the movie were concocted by them, along with input from Rudd and his wife, from their own experiences.

Apatow has always been critical, if affectionately so, of what he sees as his generation’s desperate attempts to hang on to adolescence. To the extent that This Is 40 will genuinely connect with audiences, it will be with its often uncomfortable depictions of pointless arguments, unkept promises, and general ennui. But really Apatow is a comedian and a fan of comedians, and he’s more interested in laughs than content. As always with his films, it runs long (nearly two hours and 15 minutes) because he loves to put funny people onscreen and let them do what they do, regardless of whether it pushes the story along. (Chief beneficiary this time is Melissa McCarthy, who is very funny as a parent with whose young son Debbie has picked a fight.)

Watch the trailer for This is 40

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