We See Chick Flicks: “This Is 40″

Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, Albert Brooks and John Lithgow

Simply put, “This Is 40″ left a sour taste in my mouth. I felt like Judd Apatow did what he always does, which is write a plum role for his wife, and then decide: “Hey, I’ll throw every other funny person I know in this movie! And also Megan Fox! She’ll take her top off! And swim in a bikini! And I’ll give my kids roles, too! Even though they’re not good actors!”

The Plot: “This Is 40″ revisits Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), the brother- and sister-in-law from “Knocked Up.” (Yet no mention of Kathryn Heigl’s character or her child is made in this movie at all … but whatever, minor detail.) Debbie and Pete are celebrating their 40th birthdays the same week and she’s having a really hard time coping with it. She doesn’t exactly explain why she’s upset about aging, but Debbie just forces all kind of new health-crazy rules on her husband and her family and pisses them all off. Then there’s Pete, whose record company is flailing. He’s lending money to his broke father and lying to Debbie about it. Oh, and back to Debbie: she knows one of her employees at her boutique is stealing from her, but she’s not sure who. Also: their prepubescent children are fighting with each other. Also: their prepubescent children are fighting with them. Also: Debbie’s estranged father suddenly appears out of nowhere after years apart.

Yes, this is actually the plot of the movie.

The Verdict: In case you didn’t pick it up from the paragraph above, the plot of “This Is 40″ is an absolute mess. Way too much is happening at the same time (and I left a big, big spoiler out) and as a result, nothing ever gets too in depth. The cast is huge and there are some really funny people in the film (Lena Dunham, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel) who are underused.  Meanwhile — nepotism alert — Mann and Apatow’s real-life children Maude and Iris again star as Pete and Debbie’s kids in the film and they’re on-screen all the time, even though neither is a particularly good actor. They’re cute, sure, and their lines are funny, but they are not trained actors and it shows.

My biggest beef with “This Is 40″ is that Pete and Debbie are both so awful and unlikeable. And, like, not in a funny way. Debbie is utterly narcissistic and despite having a great body, she frets the whole film about her appearance. She nags and nags and nags and nags. She gets in a fight with a kid at her daughter’s school and then lies about it, as if that’s supposed to be funny. And then there’s Pete, who repeatedly tells HUGE lies to his wife about money and somehow manages not to get his ass dumped.

I don’t expect my movie characters to be perfect or likeable; I was just unimpressed with what this movie tried to pass off as “character growth.” I ultimately didn’t understand the point of these characters or what “This Is 40″ is trying to say about anything. The way Judd Apatow has written this vanity project, turning 40 means you are going to become an asshole.

“This is 40″ is in theaters today. 

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