This Is 40 [Review]

This Is 40

If you're 'around 40', are married, and have kids, watch at your own risk.

One of two things happens when you take in comedy that hits close to home:

a) you howl with laughter, relating completely, and wishing you had been clever enough to write whatever was making you laugh so hard

b) find it impossible not to apply your values to the movie/article/book, and find yourself turned off by the whole thing

This is 40 turned me off. The film, written and directed by crass-comedic-genius, Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), tells the story of married couple Debbie and Paul, played by Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. She has a clothing store with an unusually hot employee, and he has a retro record label which is about to go bottoms up. They live in Los Angeles with their two kids (played by Apatow and Mann's own children, aged 8 and 13).

Debbie and Paul don't really seem to like each other, nor do they seem like nice people. She's high-strung, bitchy, and treats her husband badly, and he's kind of afraid of her and not at all transparent about big issues in their lives. (For example, is his business failing to the extent that they need to sell their home? Has he really been taking Viagra for two years?). Some of the depictions of life are kind of funny, but I can't really remember any of them.

Mostly I remember that they fight, they have unfulfilling sex, they have a weekend away with fulfilling sex, she talks with her trainer in a completely ridiculous, open manner, and gets really sad about her own age whilst looking at her unusually hot employee's nubile body. It's all kind of depressing.

But what really put me off was her going off the deep at her daughter's school. She verbally abuses a teenage boy who gives her daughter a hard time on Facebook, making him cry. Sure he looks like Tom Petty, as she says, but the scene isn't funny at all. Nor is the next phase of the storyline, where her husband gets into it with his overweight mother, and then, in the principal's office, they turn the tables on her, making her the crazy, out-of-control person.

It was downhill from there. I was turning into a totally judgmental woman. I didn't like anything about her. I didn't respect anything about him. I didn't care if they made it or not. (I did, however, like the fact that her estranged, messed up father made it back into the family, but I'm a pretty nice person, so I would.) I couldn't see past my own self, and what's the escapist, fun in that?

The next night we watched Pitch Perfect, a film not at all intended for a 40-year-old audience like us. And guess what? It was hilarious and totally fun.