Tonight some friends and I decided to go see “This Is 40”, the new Judd Apatow movie that is a pseudo-sequel to 2007’s highly successful “Knocked Up”. After this film I’m beginning to think that Apatow’s strategy of making the same coming-of-age film at different points in life is wearing thin. I remember films like “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” as some of my favorite films of their respective years, while “This Is 40” is something I doubt I’ll remember past this month.
One apt comparison I’ve heard is to the 1989 Steve Martin film “Parenthood”. “Parenthood” has since been remade into a TV Drama (again) that is currently one of my favorite things on television, and I couldn’t help thinking that this film was sort of a shittier version of that. That’s not to say that this is a poor film overall, it has funny and heartwarming moments, but it never quite makes it over the top. The cast is impressive, starring the always funny Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, however pretty much all of the secondary characters are underused. Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, and even Megan Fox have great moments in the film but their characters are just not used to their potential; not to mention the fatal mistake of essentially benching the incredibly talented John Lithgow.
Despite all that what really kills this film is the runtime. After about an hour the films pace really slows in order to try and relate to the audience, but it never really manages to do so. Perhaps there was more resonance with the older members of the audience, but again I have always connected with “Parenthood” which maintains a very similar premise.
|Plus, it's a family drama with THREE non-white characters. That's gotta be some kind of record.|
Normally I’d get into all the visual styles and how I like his use of cuts, but I get the sense most people see where this review is going: “This is 40” is a rent at best. You know why? It’s just not there. The casting is excellent, but the characters are flat; there are heartwarming moments and funny moments, but never at the same time and never so good as to be memorable; and you feel every second of the over two hour runtime. If you’re looking for a heartwarming, funny romp through a family that feels real, but just off enough to be entertaining, try NBC’s “Parenthood”, you can find it on Hulu. If you’re looking to kill a couple of hours with a movie that’s “ok enough” then once this hits Netflix maybe check it out.