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This Is 40 - Review

This Is 40

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

SPEAKING as someone who only recently turned 40, Judd Apatow’s latest comedy is tailor-made and near-perfect. Speaking also as a lover of cinema and great comedy, This Is 40 is still near-perfect.

Apatow as writer-director is always on the money in terms of striking a fine balance between laugh out loud, sometimes crass comedy and heartfelt emotion that’s grounded in reality. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People attest to that.

This Is 40, inspired by characters in Knocked Up, continues that hot streak. Yes, it’s long (most Apatow comedies are) but the gag rate is high and you will become emotionally invested while also finding plenty to relate to.

Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann play Pete and Debbie, a struggling couple with two kids (Apatow and Mann’s real-life daughters), who hit 40 within weeks of each other. How they cope with this landmark and the various ups and downs that have got them to this point forms the focus of what ensues.

For Pete, it’s about trying to keep everyone happy while struggling financially and supporting his layabout dad (Albert Brooks), while for Debbie it’s about being a good mum, trying to find out who’s been stealing from her business and coping with some surprising news and the return of her own absentee dad (Jon Lithgow).

Apatow’s skill is in heightening believable scenarios for comedic effect without ever losing sight of the human emotions at play. Hence, every argument is relatable on some level, whether it’s about family, finances, keeping the kids grounded but cool or maintaining a healthy work-life balance within a long-standing relationship.

And while a lot of the jokes may be downright filthy and the language fairly fruity, the characters at play remain worth rooting for throughout, flaws and all.

Rudd and Mann are terrific here, building on the chemistry and tensions they exhibited to such winning effect in Knocked Up and basking in centre-stage. But they’re fearless too, unconcerned by perception and often putting their vanity on hold to mine laughs from their warts and all portrayal.

The Apatow kids also build on their winning turns from Knocked Up (now older and more bolshy), while there’s the usual round of appearances from Apatow regulars as well as the odd cameo.

Of those supporting players, Chris O’Dowd shines, as does Jason Segel, while Megan Fox sends her sex appeal up in fun fashion. Brooks and Lithgow also register strongly as the respective dads. And watch out, too, for Melissa McCarthy’s couple of scenery chewing appearances.

Apatow, as writer, also tosses in the usual amount of film and pop culture references (a recurring gag about Lost is particularly great) while also ensuring that there’s plenty of heart to offset some of the meaner gags.

Overall, This Is 40 is an absolute blast and destined to become one of the comedies of the year.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 134mins
UK Release Date: February 14, 2013