Saturday, April 26, 2014

This Is 40 (2012) - Review

I hope not.

Judd Apatow has done a lot of good for the comedy genre in the past few years.  Starting with The 40 Year Old Virgin (lots of obsession with 40, eh?), Apatow hit comedy gold, finding a strong ensemble and that perfect line that straddles sweet and crass.  And pretty much all of his films (at least the ones he directed personally; sorry, Drillbit Taylor) range from solid to really great.

This Is 40 is no exception.  It's billed as a 'sort-of sequel to Knocked Up', and that's probably its biggest downfall.  Knocked Up is a great film, but the tone is completely different to this one.  If anything, this movie has a lot more in common with Funny People.  Whereas Funny People took a depressing subject like cancer and showed it in both its light and dark moments, this movie does the same for a failing marriage.  Well that, and they're both REALLY long for 'comedies'.

Marital bliss!
But basically what I'm getting at is that they aren't comedies.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, and they certainly have funny moments -- let's be honest, you can't put Paul Rudd in a movie and not at least get some chuckles -- but to call it a comedy is to grossly underplay the dramatic elements at work.  I'm not too sure how the movie was received; in fact, I don't really remember anyone ever talking about it, and I think a lot of that is due to the fact that the typical comedy audience don't want to see a depressing movie about a crumbling marriage with some jokes thrown in.

So aside from the marketing mistake, is it a good movie?  Absolutely.  While it is a bit heavy in its subject matter and execution, there are plenty of lighter moments to offset all the despair.  One scene of both parents being psychotic to a parent of a bully comes to mind.  And on the other end of the spectrum, we have a beautifully poignant scene comparing the couple's marriage to Simon and Garfunkel.  The dialogue and performances are superb throughout the entire film, managing to be funny AND feel like real people at the same time.  That's a rare feat in the comedy genre, which tend to side toward poor Apatow imitators or more kid-friendly fare.  This is neither.  This movie is the real deal, so check it out.  If nothing else, it's a good indicator into what you can expect when you hit that dreaded 'four oh'.

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