For as dominant a producing force Judd Apatow is in the realm of R-rated raunch these days, his directing credits, limited as they may be, have taken a peculiar turn with his decision to pair tangible real-life drama with an overabundance of toilet humor. 2009’s Funny People obviously comes to mind, however with This is 40 – “the sort-of sequel to Knocked Up” – Apatow’s re-recruited Paul Rudd and wife Leslie Mann to reprise their roles as an already estranged married couple on the cusp of their respective fortieth birthdays. It’s a commentary on the perils of coming to terms with the milestone to be sure, yet the ball is noticeably dropped once again when it comes to pairing disparate narrative tones.
Timeliness frequently comes into play as Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) stress a great deal over their four-piece family’s financial woes, the male part of the equation withholding valuable information and fueling his and his significant other’s infinite resentment for one another without fail. This is 40 more often than not serves as a unintentional cautionary tale addressing the unspoken horrors of cushy married life, not only pairing our nation’s floundering economy with this couple’s plight but throwing every aspect of their lives in a blender and letting it run overnight. From annoying bouts of denial regarding her age on Debbie’s behalf to Pete’s general immaturity, the two always have something to bicker over in an aggravatingly repetitive fashion, even when it comes to addressing and especially raising their two daughters.
Without going into too much detail, This is 40, while discernibly and even laugh-out-loud funny at times, never really achieves a comedic highpoint to help overcome the overbearing glumness brought about by the titular family’s persistent hardships. Easily noticeable when watching the film yourself, certain issues are beaten to death regarding Pete and Debbie’s seemingly insurmountable marital obstacles – an attribute that becomes a bit irritating when a film rings as self-important as this one. While mildly incisive regarding the midlife crisis-centric aspects at its core, Apatow can’t quite strike a wholly competent balance between high(er) drama and his genuinely hilarious sense of humor. In other words, for as relatable as a majority of the proceedings will be to a specific niche audience, those looking for a straightforward comedic romp with assuredly go home empty-handed.