December 30, 2012

Critical Capsule: This is 40

I am a fan of Judd Apatow, he makes funny films that have a certain level of intelligence to them. It seems like the vast majority of films that he makes, and a number that come from his relative stable, are funny, real, and touch on actual humanity. He takes real world possibility, injects a dose of absurdist, yet still makes the final movie relatable and laugh out loud funny. They tend to touch on real world issues, deal with them in a serious fashion while making you laugh the whole time.

This is 40 is his latest stab at a blend of the real and the absurd. I would be lying if I said I did not laugh and I would also be lying of I said that he does not touch on some truths, but I would also be lying if I did not say that this was also a misstep. This is a movie made by someone who is a touch off his game. It is like he knows exactly what he want to say but is a bit unsure of how to tell it.

The movie does touch on the day to day struggles of keeping all the balls in the air, the slightest loss of attention will send everything careening wildly out of control. To tell the story of this juggling act, Apatow as brought back a couple familiar characters, Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann), from Knocked Up.

The couple have reached their 40th birthdays and while Pete is celebrating it, Debbie is in denial. This is on,y the tip of the iceberg as this couple is troubled. It is clear they still care about each other, but money issues, parental issues, sullen kids, and whatever else you ca think of are weighing on them.

I really liked how it peeled back the layers of long running relationship and the real world stresses hat build up and cause issues, intended and otherwise, but the movie just feels off. It has that trademark Apatow feel, but it feels like he has taken the vulgarity over the edge. Now, I am not one to complain about ad language in a movie, but it seems to be a bit much, indulgent and superfluous. Shock value just to shock rather than have actual impact on the narrative.

Beyond the written vulgarity, This is 40 doesn't have a good flow to it. It feels like scene-scene-scene jammed together without having a flow to them. It all comes across as very jerky and off putting. Add to the flow issues some odd framing and the movie is kind of ugly to look at, this is hard o describe, but it looks weird with characters cropped in strange ways.

The performances are solid. Paul Rudd is always reliable and Leslie Mann is fascinating as Debbie, she as this vulnerable strength hat works really well. Supporting cast is solid as well.

This is a movie that I do recommend seeing, but also recognize as being a bit of a stumble in Judd Apatow's filmography.

Mildly Recommended.

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