Heavy around the waist
This is 40 Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Charlyne Ye, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow. Written and directed by Judd Apatow. 134 minutes, R16 (sex scenes, drug use, offensive language). Showing at Reading Cinemas Porirua. It proved to be a magic number for film-maker Judd Apatow’s ageing virgin, but ‘‘40’’ loses its lustre in the guise of married couple Debbie and Pete.
You may remember them from Knocked Up, Debbie, the uptight big sister of Katherine Heigl’s character, and Pete, her downtrodden, sarcastic spouse.
You may also recall Knocked Up as the last time Apatow really brought the funny – and the last time Heigl appeared in anything watchable.
The idiosyncratic film- maker with a penchant for mining humour from honesty, overindulged in the bloated, misguided but sporadically hilarious Funny People. Unfortunately This is 40 is guilty of many of the same foibles.
The big 4-0 is approaching for both Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) and something has got to give. Both have their hang-ups, secrets and fears that their life and their love isn’t what it should be.
Their two daughters have drained them of energy and inde-
Modern Family. pendence, romance has given way to farting in bed, and each of their bad habits drives the other crazy.
Refreshingly, the picture doesn’t take the usual track of a major bust-up followed by inevitable, emphatic reconnection.
There is no infidelity or, worse, comical misunderstanding that drives a wedge between Pete and Debbie.
Their relationship ebbs and flows in a messy tangle of daily frustrations and adoration.
Life will never be perfect, but they never seem doomed.
Apatow has a gift for finding comedy in real life human behaviour and This is 40 will have seasoned couples cackling in their seats at those ‘‘ you do that!’’ observations.
I can’t fault the performances of the leads – the often-annoying Mann included – but this middleaged love story is carrying a lot of flab.
The movie is at least 20 minutes longer than it need be, with too many diversions into half-baked story-threads.
Did we really need to meet all of Pete and Debbie’s employees? How about the five- minute medical-check montage – all for the gag of having doctors stick their fingers in uncomfortable places. Yawn.
Simply, too many characters exist solely to deliver their one golden moment of repartee or improv.
Ironically, it was these sort of traits that made Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin so wonderful and worthy of repeated viewing.
For Pete and Debbie, the path to tenderness and understanding is more meandering.
There is a bitter-sweet, sincere and funny story here, but it gets lost among the sprawl.
Hello lover: Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann entertain as a neurotic couple trying to keep the spark of their relationship alive, but Judd Apatow’s scattershot This is 40 is no more rewarding than an average episode of