Movie review: 'This Is 40'

Writer-director Judd Apatow bills “This Is 40” as the “sort-of sequel” to 2007's “Knocked Up,” but this episodic examination of a couple facing middle age plays like a lengthy highlight/lowlight reel of serial familial squabbling.
By George Lang Published: December 21, 2012

Apatow's decision to center “This Is 40” on existing characters from a previous film creates an added, possibly unnecessary, layer of storytelling responsibility. Apart from Pete and Debbie's family, only Jason (Jason Segel) and Jodi (Charlyne Yi) reappear from “Knocked Up,” but they hardly seem like the same people. Jason has gone from amiable, underachieving pothead to smarmy personal trainer in five years.

Yes, people change and drift in and out of each other's lives, but there are some big continuity holes between “Knocked Up” and “This Is 40.” Most of the secondary stories involving Pete's and Debbie's fathers (played by Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, respectively), friends and employees barely resonate, and one club scene in which Debbie enjoys a ladies night out is nearly a rewrite of a similar “Knocked Up” sequence.

Rudd and Mann do play well off one another, and Apatow's daughters are suitably trained in their father's brand of caustic angst, but the material calls for rancor without much resolution.

After more than two hours, “This Is 40” provides few answers to either Pete and Debbie's specific malaise or the general difficulties faced by couples well into their second decade of matrimony. In between the screaming, “This Is 40” screams out for a real sequel to “Knocked Up.” To paraphrase James Brown, it is talking loud and saying almost nothing.

George Lang


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MOVIE REVIEW

‘This Is 40'

R2:132 stars

Starring: Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd. (Sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug use)

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