One can see why, with all the colorful characters emoting priceless Knocked Up quotes, Judd Apatow would focus a sort-of sequel on his real life wife Leslie Mann and her onscreen husband, Paul Rudd. The fact that the Apatow children appear once again as the couple's kids had to be a big appeal as well. As our This Is 40 review will answer, one question arises: Will audiences share his affinity with this supporting player couple from a five-year-old movie?
That answer should be unequivocally yes. Rudd and Mann have a comic tit for tat that is a joy to witness drawn out over two-hours. There is also something about Apatow creating a movie about these two characters that we slightly know and their adorable kids (played by Mann and Apatow's real children), set against the backdrop of watching the calendar turn to that wicked number 40. Those combine into the perfect palette for the comedy painter of our time to fill his canvas.
Both Rudd's Pete and Mann's Debbie meet that fateful age in the same week and each has very different attitudes towards it. Watching Mann's boutique owner revel in age denial is a lesson in playing for comedy without going over the top. And Rudd's self-assured on the outside and freaking out on the inside record label owner is right in his wheelhouse.
If anyone steals the spotlight in that house it is Maude Apatow... check her out in the This Is 40 red band trailer. Her teenage angst is spot-on and further feeds the fire of this stunningly real, yet hysterical world of this family. Actually, there should be a tie. Melissa McCarthy rips it as a parent whom Rudd and Mann do battle with from their kid's school.
When it comes to supporting cast members, fans of Hollywood favorites will cheer. Both Albert Brooks and John Lithgow light up the screen as the couple's respective fathers. Brooks and Rudd's camaraderie is purely classic while Mann and Lithgow are quite cold... yet perhaps warming? Megan Fox actually is quite good as a character who may or may not be stealing from Mann's store and Robert Smigel reminds us why we like him so darn much.
This is not a perfect comedy and not one of Apatow's best. But, it was never meant to have the balls-to-the-wall humor of some of his earlier work. This is a film, bottom line, which is about turning 40 years old. One cannot approach or pass that age without serious reflection... and serious joy. And that is what Apatow has given audiences with This Is 40.