Sunday, December 30, 2012
At the Movies: This is 40
Judd Apatow's self-proclaimed "sort of sequel" to Knocked Up, This is 40 is the story of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), the always-caustic but once upwardly mobile couple with whom we first became acquainted in the background of Ben and Alison's baby drama. A far cry from the affluent family that once sheltered Alison in its guest house, the troubled twosome and their two daughters weather financial problems complicated by relationship problems complicated by parent problems complicated by parenting problems complicated by the problems that come with the big 40. The results are often more cutting than comic, straddling the murky middle ground between Apatow's raucous Knocked Up and his bleak Funny People. Even so, This is 40 emerges as the more satisfying and multi-faceted movie.
Debbie runs a clothing boutique from which she suspects her employees are stealing, and Pete has left the safe world of Sony to start his own (struggling) retro rock label. But unlike the authors of idealistic destinies that run rampant in other kinds of movies, Pete and Debbie pay the price for their entrepreneurial existence and are so maxed out that they're in danger of losing their house. It is this conflict, as well as finding time to be a couple in addition to parents, that is at the heart of this dark comedy, not the lure of infidelity, as in similarly genred but far less trenchant flicks such as The Change-up and Hall Pass.
As a thirty-year-old, not-quite-yet-married woman without kids, I won't pretend to be on intimate terms with Debbie's issues. But I can say that they seemed real and disturbing and that despite my discomfort in witnessing them, I appreciated being exposed to a love story that was not sugar-coated. Unlike your garden variety romantic comedy, This is 40 is about all the stuff that happens - and keeps happening - after the dust clears from the fairy tale wedding.
Now that I've gotten all the serious stuff out of the way, I'd like to give a shout-out to Paul Rudd's hair. It looks better than ever, even if his dad (a reprehensible mooch played by Albert Brooks) tells him to cut it.