Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann had small roles in writer/director Judd Apatow’s 2007 hit Knocked Up. They were Pete and Debbie, sister and brother-in-law to main character Katherine Heigl’s Allison.
Now they have their own movie.
Pete and Debbie are turning 40. Their marriage is in a crisis. Communication is at an all-time low. Every comment turns into a slight that turns into a fight. She wants a change, and they begin experimenting with new ways to improve their marriage and family life.
It doesn’t go well.
Other problems. His recording business is bankrupt. Adding to the money problems is Pete giving lots of money to his moocher dad and dad’s new family. Debbie’s boutique is losing money. Someone on staff is stealing. She has zero for a relationship with her dad and thinks much of her life troubles are based in the non-relationship.
And on and on it goes.
Apatow doesn’t seem to have a fully-formulated plot. It looks like the actors are given a scene concept and turned loose. The result is a very long movie packed with ad-libbed scenes. And there are so many in the set-up that you’re a full hour into the film before the plot hits solid ground and begins to plod forward.
Performances? They’re exceptional. Rudd and Mann are likable, charismatic and real. Highlights? Old pros Albert Brooks and John Lithgow steal the show as the two fathers. Megan Fox gives her best performance ever as Debbie’s free-spirited employee. Comedienne Melissa McCarthy does a really funny cameo. So do some of the bit players.
For lack of a better description, This is 40 is more a collection of skits than a movie. In places, you will howl and laugh so hard it hurts. Unfortunately, in too few places. Apatow’s indulgent flick runs 2:15. Cut This is 40 by 40 minutes, tighten the plot and you have the best comedy of the year.
Instead Apatow’s self-described “sort of sequel” is just “sort of” funny.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Director: Judd Apatow
Stars: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Melissa McCarthy, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow
Rated R for mature themes, language and brief nudity. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.