Friday, December 21, 2012

THIS IS 40 Is Funny But Enough With Your Family, Apatow!

Opening today at a multiplex near you:

THIS IS 40 (Dir. Judd Apatow, 2012) 

Although it’s being billed as “the sort-of sequel to KNOCKED UP,” I’m considering Judd Apatow’s newest to be the third in the Apatow family trilogy. 

We were introduced to married couple Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife of 15 years) and their two daughters Maude and Iris Apatow in KNOCKED UP in 2007, sans Rudd they appeared as different characters in Apatow’s 2009 comedy drama FUNNY PEOPLE, and now they revert back to their original incarnations to take center stage in THIS IS 40.

Set during a week that both Rudd and Mann turn the big Four-O, Apatow’s glorified 134 minute home movie juggles a bunch of fussy threads.

Let’s see, there’s the thread in which Mann is lying about her age - she’s even tells her doctor she’s only 38.

There’s Rudd’s fledging record label thread, staffed with Lena Dunham (HBO’s Girls), and Chris O’Dowd (BRIDESMAIDS), in which he’s trying to revive the career of British rocker Graham Parker (appearing as himself reunited with his great old band the Rumour).

There’s the story-line about the oldest daughter, 13 year old Maude Apatow, getting put on a Facebook “not hot” list by a boy at school, which results in a confrontation with the boy’s mother (Melissa McCarthy).

There’s the subplot about Rudd’s father, the always welcome Albert Brooks, continually borrowing money to take care of his young blonde triplets.

There’s the Mann’s clothing store thread, in which Mann frets over which one of her two employees (Megan Fox and Charlyne Yi) stole $12,000.

There’s the story-line about Mann trying to reconnect with her emotionally distant father (John Lithgow).

In the mix as well is Jason Segel as Mann’s overconfident trainer (returning from KNOCKED UP), Robert Smigel as Rudd’s best friend, and cameos by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong and North Carolina native singer-songwriter Ryan Adams.

Whew! It’s a good thing that KNOCKED UP’s Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl don’t put in appearances – there wouldn’t be room for them.

THIS IS 40 is Apatow’s most indulgent movie, but it’s packed with enough laughs to make it worthwhile for comedy fans. It’s funnier than FUNNY PEOPLE, maybe about equal to KNOCKED UP and 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN, and the leads’ likability goes a long way.

Language-wise, it’s a hard R. It may actually be as profane as DJANGO UNCHAINED, albeit in a very different context. A scene with Melissa McCarthy (put her in and consider the scene stolen), maybe contains the most amusing usage of profanity in a comedy this year (stay through the end credits to see an extended version of this scene in which Rudd and Mann are about to lose it).

I hope with this movie, Apatow’s family trilogy is complete. Three movies featuring his wife and kids is enough. With this movie, and the inevitable tons of bonus footage that will surely be on its later Blu ray/DVD release, I really hope he can get all the humor derived from his household out of his system, and find the funny in other things.

More later...

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