At the Movies: This Is 40

Do most married folk really have face-to-face conversations while one is sitting on the toilet?

I love my wife but there are certain areas of my life that remain off limits. And I’m pretty sure she feels the same.

But that’s the kind of thing that goes on in “This is 40,” another overlong, uneven comedy by Judd Apatow. When it’s funny, it’s very funny. But for the most part I find characters in Apatow movies to be trying too hard to be too clever.

This-is-40Married couple Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann), last seen in Apatow’s “Knocked Up,” are about to turn 40. At least Pete is — Debbie is clinging to 38.

They have a nice house and two daughters — surly teen Sadie (Maude Apatow) and cute preteen Charlotte (Iris Apatow).

Pete owns a record label that is in financial trouble. Debbie owns a clothing store that isn’t doing much better. Debbie is unaware of Pete’s money problems. Adding to the problem is Pete’s deadbeat dad Larry (Albert Brooks); Pete is still giving Larry money against Debbie’s wishes. Debbie’s dad Oliver (John Lithgow) has plenty of money, but is distant and detached from the family.

The film follows the family in the days preceding Pete’s birthday party (Debbie doesn’t want one) as Pete tries to revive his business, Debbie tries to figure out which employee is stealing from her business, and they squabble over this, that and the other thing.

For every funny bit in “This Is 40” there is something that goes too far — but I guess that’s what the appeal is for many fans of R-rated comedies. I like the actors — I’ve always loved Albert Brooks — but the movie just rambles on and by the end I got tired of the frequent whiplash of watching Pete and Debbie fight and a few minutes later act like nothing was wrong. It was like watching an old ’70s sitcom — specifically “One Day at a Time.”

 

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