It's easy to carp that This Is 40 is too long, too aimless, too alert to small resentments, and too stingy with the comic set pieces and gel-capped life lessons of Apatow's Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But those resentments are sharply observed, and the many scenes of Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd as married folks pickling in each other’s presence are more familiar from life than from movies, and almost always droll if not laugh-out-loud funny. A scene of husband Pete (Rudd) upsetting wife Debbie (Mann) with his bed farts is tinged with tragic truth—what is marriage but the process of acclimating to each other's gasses? More painful still is the moment when Debbie, seeking sex, bares the breasts she has been worrying over as her 40th birthday approaches—only to be rebuffed as Pete monkeys with his iPad. Sometimes, Apatow's gifts for comedy and pain come together beautifully. Debbie and Pete laugh in bed about how much they hate each other, sometimes, and then how exactly they would murder each other. Her answer—a slow poisoning—gets more involved as she describes it, and Mann makes the most of her showcase. Debbie is the first female character in an Apatow film as engaging and fucked up as the boys. Much like marriage, This Is 40 is somewhat formless and sometimes frustrating, but life is improved by having the option.
Judd ApatowLeslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Megan Fox, Jason Segel, Chris O'Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Charlyne YiJudd ApatowJudd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Clayton TownsendUniversal Studios