This Is 40

Movie Information

The Story: A long-married couple attempts to cope with entering their 40s. The Lowdown: All of Judd Apatow’s worst attributes — an aimless story, an overlong run time — with the added bonus of obnoxious, infuriating upper-middle-class banality.
Genre: Comedy
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel
Rated: R

Under most circumstances, I’ll champion personal, self-indulgent filmmaking. Most of cinema’s greatest accomplishments have been described as — and admonished for — this kind of selfish, singular approach, while many of the ones that miss greatness are at the very least fascinating miscalculations or glorious messes. Judd Apatow’s This is 40 is not fascinating, and it’s definitely not great. This isn’t self-indulgent filmmaking for the sake of some personal artistic achievement. This is narcissism, an infuriating, solipsistic love letter from Apatow to Apatow on just how tough it is to be a rich dude. I don’t often use the word “hate” when it comes to movies — most bad movies are simply too trivial to invest that kind of emotional energy — but I hated this movie and its out of touch, self-centered view of the world.

The film exists as what’s being called a “sort-of sequel” to Apatow’s last hit Knocked Up (2007), a safe move for a man whose clout took a hit with the disastrous Funny People (2009). But the same problems that plagued not just Funny People, but the majority of Apatow’s films, are here. Chunks of the movie are improvised, which — within an already meandering plot — causes the movie to wander about blindly, as a parade of Apatow’s best buds and usual suspects mug for the camera. With an absurd 134-minute run time, This is 40 becomes one painful chore to sit through. The cornball joke for the film is that it should’ve been called This is 40 Minutes Too Long, but you could have seriously lopped an hour off the damned thing and I’d be happy (cutting 134 minutes out would’ve been even peachier). From the onset, this film’s a grind, but it only gets worse from there.

The plot revolves around married couple Pete and Debbie — played by Paul Rudd and Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann, respectively — and their gamut of rich-white-people problems, and the endless nattering and bickering it creates. They have loud, annoying kids — played by Apatow and Mann’s daughters — who can’t pull themselves away from their expensive gadgets. Debbie’s clothing boutique is failing, and woe is Pete, whose record label is slowly floundering. Keep in mind, neither seems to have a clue how to run a business, and are doing these things less out of necessity and more out of having cash to throw around. Because of this — and Pete’s continuous lending of money to his father (Albert Brooks) — they’re some $80,000 in debt. In a normal movie — let alone normal life — this would cause problems. In This is 40, it’s just a thing to squabble about. Fancy vacations and huge birthday parties still happen and they still live in a house they admit is too big for them. Nothing ever comes of it because nothing ever comes of anything in this movie and, most importantly, because these are people who live in a world devoid of consequence.

There are zero likable qualities to any of these clueless people (Pete’s entire character exists for people who still inexplicably think Paul Rudd is “cute”) to the point that I’m not sure who this movie is made for. (Maybe Mitt Romney and his horse could have a hearty chuckle at it.) This is a movie about privileged people, like Apatow, who are totally oblivious to their own privilege. Rated R for sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material.

Starts Fri., Dec. 21 at Carolina Asheville Cinema 14 and other theaters



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20 thoughts on “This Is 40

  1. Tonberry


    I’ll take this off the Christmas movie viewing trip. Even worse than “Funny People”? That’s just awful, I’m sorry you had to go through this.

  2. Tonberry

    I planned a ‘at the movies binge day’ after Christmas, since the opportunity arose that I could do such a thing. I really wanted to see ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ between ‘Django Unchained’ and ‘The Hobbit: I Got Your First Payment’ but since I won’t be in Asheville — I traded ‘Silver Linings’ for this.

    It doesn’t make much sense, since I’ve always had problems/annoyances with Apatow directed or produced films, and then we get to ‘Funny People,’ which was my breaking point. But the exception was ‘Knocked Up,’ and maybe I thought I’d find a semi-sequel to be mildly as fun as that.

    Alas, no I wont see it, this review saved my life.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Well, you can thank Mr. Souther. I have seen the thing, though. If anything, I think he was kind.

  4. Xanadon't

    Finally. An Apatow production that’s so unappealing at its very core that even I won’t Redbox the damn thing sometime down the road in an act of careless miscalculation, all because I “just felt like something light”. Whew. Glad that’s settled.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Next time you “just want something light,” I can give you a list. The downside is that they’re probably not in Redbox.

  6. Xanadon't

    That’s probably for the best, seeing as most titles stocked that are worth seeing are movies I already caught in theaters. Really Redbox exists for me primarily as a way to make grocery shopping trips a little more bearable. But then, the ensuing couple of hours often end up less bearable, so…

  7. Ken Hanke

    I’ve never availed myself of Redbox, but I’ve often looked at the titles from the safety of my truck whilst waiting for my wife at CVS. I am often struck by the number of “art” titles, which seem unlikely candidates, escepecially in Swananoa. Then again, back when Ingles had video departments, I picked up things like Tetro and Broken Embraces for five bucks in Swananoa fairly often. It’s as perplexing as those copies of Architectual Digest and House and Garden that used to show up as reading material in the Wash Tub Laundrette in Marshall.

    • JIm Donato

      I know what you mean. I bought my copy of “The Saddest Music In The World” in the $5 bin at the Swannanoa Ingles!

  8. Edwin Arnaudin

    I’ve never availed myself of Redbox

    I get a monthly text for a free rental, though it has to be used that day and is usually sent around noon. Still, it’s a good way to supplement.

    It’s as perplexing as those copies of Architectual Digest and House and Garden that used to show up as reading material in the Wash Tub Laundrette in Marshall.

    Those may have belonged to a design school friend of my dad’s, who has a farm in Madison County.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Those may have belonged to a design school friend of my dad’s, who has a farm in Madison County.

    The question arises as to why he’d be in a laundromat, though. I had the excuse of having just gotten here. (After a month or so I’d have married someone for a washer and dryer.) Anyway, I like my belief that after night falls and the curtains are drawn, the citizenry meet with dry martinis (Bombay, Tanqueray, or Beefeater, of course) in hand and discuss things like form following function.

  10. DrSerizawa

    Youse guys just don’t understand the angst of the multi-millionaire Hollywood “elite”. It’s tough when you’re out of Cuban cigars and can’t just fly to Canada to get some for a couple of days because the GulfstreamII is down for maintenance. Having to share a first class cabin on a commercial flight is too much to bear. Show some empathy for Judd and his compatriots.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I know what you mean. I bought my copy of “The Saddest Music In The World” in the $5 bin at the Swannanoa Ingles!

    Those were the days!

  12. Orbit DVD

    Those were the days!

    You obviously haven’t checked out my dollar bin lately…

  13. Ken Hanke

    This may seem an awfully personal question, but is your dollar bin brimming with quirky artsy titles?

  14. light43

    Clearly Apatow needed to satisfy his narcissistic, self-loving, conceited, self-centred, self-absorbed, egotistical, egocentric, self-regarding, self-obsessed, selfish, self-centered real like wife with this movie. He understands she is only with him for his money, success and movie director title. Every scene is designed to make her look gorgeous regardless of the the content. The kids are horrible actors. And one cannot help but feel these characters are disgusting caricatures of these their real self indulgent lives.

  15. Ken Hanke

    He also envisions himself as looking like Paul Rudd. Now I don’t think Rudd is anything to invite home to meet mother, but at least he doesn’t look like Apatow.

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