The Movie: 7.5/10
That is not 40. THIS (looking in mirror) is 40, and 41, and 45, and on and on. I know it’s a comedy, charming, kind of sweet, and trying really hard to represent a view of life from the point of view of folks being 40 years old. What I also know is that it’s a very narrow view of the subject. A white, upper middle class, attractive couple have stumbled into marital, financial, and family problems. Because it’s very roughly representative of Judd Apatow’s real life (his wife is the wife and his kids are the kids in the movie) I can take the leap to the truth behind the fiction. Marriage is complicated whoever you are, fair enough. I guess the thing that kept sticking in my craw during the movie was that I had no sympathy or feelings for their problems whatsoever. Not because of what they look like or their lifestyle, but because of one of the worse violations a movie can commit, the characters are not presented in a way that makes me care.
I will say I enjoyed everyone. Leslie Mann is funny enough most of the time, and in some moments I’m totally with her in her struggles, and then she becomes acting class funny and that’s a bit of a turn off. Paul Rudd has a few moments that surprised me in a good way. He has some anger, some explosive frustration and not just in a comedy way. He won me over a little bit more. Not that I didn’t like him before, I did, however it was in that “Oh Paul Rudd, that goofy guy who is funny but not much substance.” I know it’s not a fair assessment, but from the movies I have seen he’s always the comic clever one, and never anything deeper. This is 40 shows us a glimmer of something else. I want more of that.
What are the problems this couple are dealing with? Financial issues with the record label our leading man started, boredom in the marriage, frustration with aging fathers who are dysfunctional, and a general sense of feeling unsatisfied in life. I get it, I just don’t feel much for them. I see the solutions are simple but the story forces it to all be too overwhelming. I don’t identify with a son who blindly gives his seemingly lazy father money, and I don’t identify with a daughter who craves a relationship with an emotionally distant father. Not that I don’t identify because it’s not my own experience, but because the way the lines are “written” and the position the characters put themselves in don’t really match with the obvious resolutions to those situations. It’s a bit overly romanticized, the ideas of being stuck between the aging fathers with their own second families, and one’s younger family and life issues. It’s a great idea to inject in a modern movie, and both Albert Brooks and John Lithgow are fantastic. I just want more grown up behavior and reactions, not just a certain stunted male version of how to cope, or not cope as the case may be.
The dialog through the movie is genuinely interesting and even with a hint of hipness, overall every scene has that substance I was hoping for in a movie about folks in my age range:) Most of the movie is constructed with Judd Apatow behind the camera yelling or saying lines to the actors in the moment. They say the lines, he tells time to try it again but with this different word or that different phrase. So, while watching the movie it feels like it’s flowing, not from a page, and his method explains that. I like the very in-the-moment feeling of the movie. It’s never too forced, even if sometimes I am reminded that there is almost nothing about their being 40 that relates to my being 40. I do understand that a comedy about a middle aging round woman in a middle class situation, no kids for drama, no money problems for more drama, and a high level of well-balanced daily life doesn’t exactly scream box office buster. Movies are a chance to go to another world, or another neighborhood anyway, and witness some slice of life from another point of view.
What’s really good about this movie? The kids, the kids, the kids. Those girls are awesome. They are performing for their dad, Apatow, but they have some qualities that make their scenes the best part of the whole story. Their moments of pure clarity and honesty with their lines made me LOVE this movie. As much as I can criticize from my stuff brain, they salvage the entire thing. I looked forward to every scene with them and scenes with the adults to find out how their behavior would affect the young daughters. That’s saying a lot for those young performers.
Overall I say give This is 40 a try. It’s funny and surprising at times. It’s not going to make you go “OHHH THAT is soooo MY life.” but that’s not it’s responsibility after all 🙂
- The Making Of This Is 40 – A 50 minute making of documentary that is better than what you find on most action/special effect movie discs. Apatow takes us on a day by day journey around the set. This is such a good feature and one that makes me appreciate the movie even more.
- Deleted, Extended & Alternate Scenes – 54 minutes of scenes removed from the movie, it’s almost like a movie in itself.
- Gag Reel – 8 minutes of outtakes.
- Line O Rama – A tradition on Apatow productions. Funny improvised lines that do wear on you after a while. But still it’s 11 minutes long and fun.
- Music – 36 minutes of live performances by Graham Parker & The Rumor and Ryan Adams.
- Kids On The Loose 3 – Apatow directs his children in part 3 of this documentary. The other two parts are on his last two movies.
- Judd Apatow Feature Commentary – A must listen!!!! Judd lays it all on the line during this two and a half hour commentary track.
- Long Emotional Ride – Graham Parker & The Rumor reunite for the movie with tearful results.
- Fresh Air With Terry Gross – A 44 minute radio interview with Apatow.
- Bodies By Jason – A funny infomercial with Jason Segel.
- DVD & UV Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 3/10
A boring cover for a movie that made me laugh many times….it’s kind of sad. I would not have this as a poster in my house. The picture below is soooo much better!! The menu is the menu, blah.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Universal are onto a winner here with a clean crisp 1080P/AVC encode that breaks the mold for romantic comedy movies. Colors are warm and flesh-tones are natural, detail is excellent throughout. Take a look at some of the close-ups of Leslie Mann at the start of the movie, the detail on her face is so crisp you can almost see how old she really is!!!
The DTS-HD Master Audio track doesn’t fair as well as the picture. The audio is very central without much use of the surround speakers. The only time I felt the surround came into play was the live music performances during the film. Dialog is crisp and clear though and mostly intelligible. All in all though the audio just felt a bit flat and lifeless like Paul Rudd’s penis before he takes the Viagra at the start of the flick.
I have my issues with the smarmy version of being 40, however, I laughed my ass off at this movie, mostly at the young girls who were awesome. It’s too expensive at the moment, over 25 bucks. If you find it in a few weeks for $12 – $15, grab it and enjoy with friends and spouses. If not, rent it today and watch the crap out of it.
Overall Score 7.5/10