This Is 40

4 Overall Score
Plot: 2/10
Casting: 8/10
Appeal: 2/10

Some funny moments spice up a very depressing film

The long runtime is exhausting, and the movie is far too dramatic and harsh to be enjoyable

After watching Judd Apatow’s latest directing effort, This Is 40, I almost hope I never live to see myself turn 40. Despite featuring an all-star cast and some funny moments here and there, this dramatic comedy is a pulpy heap of gross, vulgar, and depressing material. If it is anything near how Apatow depicts it in This Is 40, I want nowhere near a family or raising children.

The film shadows in on the post-Knocked Up lives of record label owner Pete, played by Paul Rudd (Role Models, Our Idiot Brother), his wife Debbie, played by Leslie Mann (The Change-Up, I Love You Phillip Morris), and their two children. It’s kind of like a sequel to Knocked Up, but once the film really kicks into gear, you’ll realize the two films are polar opposites. While Apatow’s 2007 flick had a plot full of heart, humor, and up-and-down relationships, This Is 40 doesn’t seem to have a plot at all. Rather, it’s just watching Rudd and the rest of his family struggle as both him and his wife near age 40. While you’d expect the character development to move the story to a nice conclusion or at least some sort of resolved conflict, there is no movement at all. What Apatow gives you is over two hours of whining and suffering with very few feel-good moments. In fact, This Is 40 is the exact opposite of a feel-good film. All I could think when it ended was whether or not to tie a noose to my bed when I get home from the theater.

Though there is poor balance of the ups-and-downs of the “typical” modern American family, some of the humor prevents the film from sinking completely. During the first half, I found myself cracking up at some of the jokes. But with the movie trailing into nothingness, the attempts at humor during the second half of the movie come off as placid, bland, and cheap. Apatow just tried way too hard to make this movie funny. Despite this, the cast is strong, as always in Apatow films. Rudd and Mann are laudable as usual, and though Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Five-Year Engagement) is the only burnout carried over from Knocked Up, I enjoyed some of his dialogue. However, the children, played by Maude and and Iris Apatow, bothered me more than anyone; they may give decent performances, but they’re annoying as hell, and they just get worse as the film carries on.

While raunchy comedies like Superbad and The 40-Year Old Virgin build humor out of funny situations, sexual jokes, and awkwardness, This Is 40 tries to create amusement solely by watching the characters in the film suffer or be made fun of. To me, this just isn’t funny. Watching Rudd’s co-workers ridicule him or seeing kids cursing out their mother can only go so far. Now, it wasn’t the vulgarity of the film that was bothersome. It’s that Apatow went way too far with his humor, resulting in tons of dead jokes and a tiring string of family struggles. He extended scenes to the point where it was like beating a dead horse. Because of this, any genuine or touching moments are completely forgotten, and those moments are what have always made me love Apatow’s films.

Another thing that bugs me about the film: Rudd’s family is struggling financially, building the movie’s biggest and most important conflict, but they have enough money to go on expensive excursions and supply both of their kids with iPads, iTouches, and laptops. And not to mention they have a nice house, cars, and clothes. Considering this hypocrisy, I didn’t even feel bad that everyone in the family suffered. If they suck this much at managing money, their children, and their jobs, then they really need to reexamine themselves as people. They looked for support from the film’s other characters, but unfortunately everyone in their secondary family, their neighbors, other parents, and co-workers were just as cruel to the film’s four main characters as they were to each other. I’m sure there are families, work circles, and social circles in California similar to this one, but I’ve never been a part of one in my life that can even compare. And God, I hope I never do.

Because of a decent amount of humorous moments and some much-needed comic relief, This Is 40 isn’t the worst movie of 2012. But because it’s far too long and unnecessarily vulgar (just like every other Apatow movie), the film is very tedious and comes off as hard-hearted. Add that to the fact that this movie has no plot and is just a depressing story about a dysfunctional family, and it’s not hard to realize that This Is 40 is a film where in order to find enjoyment, you really have to scrape the bottom of the bowl. While it will get praise for its authenticity, this movie is one of the dullest, most depressing comedies I’ve seen in years. This Is 40 is like a bad cake mix: it’s bitter, distasteful, and rather than satisfying my hunger, it just makes my stomach hurt.

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Author: Tim Dodderidge View all posts by
I'm a student at the University of Kansas hoping to major in journalism. I love Christopher Nolan films, eating at Taco Bell, and playing indoor soccer. I also like to watch How I Met Your Mother and enjoy writing poetry.

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