Every once in a while, something comes along that makes me really appreciate the fact that I am single and childless. This movie would be one of those things. It’s billed as the ‘sort-of’ sequel to Knocked Up. I loved the characters of Pete and Debbie in Knocked Up. Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd played sister and brother-in-law to Catherine Heigel’s character. They were hilarious in their bit scenes in that movie.
Paul Rudd is one of my favorite comedic actors, and I could watch him improv for an extended period of time. It suits him well for Judd Apatow directed and produced movies, which would explain why he’s in so many of them. If you missed I love you Man, you should check out that one too.
This is 40 picks up roughly 5 years after Knocked Up and Pete and Debbie are both turning 40, although Debbie is refusing to do so. The movie doesn’t really have a clear story arc; instead we are following the events that happen between Debbie’s birthday, for which there is a small party at home, and Pete’s birthday, for which there is a large party planned. Both characters have their own insecurities to deal with. Pete’s music producing business is just shy of going belly-up, and the boutique that Debbie runs (and they both seem to own) is not doing well, missing $12,000. They also have to deal with their two daughters, one a teenager obsessed with Lost, and one an 8 year old, annoying and confused. The movie almost seems to be loosely strung-together vignettes or sketches. Pete and Debbie each go to the doctor; Debbie’s two assistants in the store are strange; Pete is pushing Graham Parker’s new album; Debbie’s father is recently back in her life after leaving when she was 8, and Pete’s father is constantly asking for money after having triplets; Pete and Debbie go on vacation and eat pot cookies; and Debbie yells at a child at their daughters’ school .
These would each be an entertaining SNL sketch, but as it is, they are loosely pieced together to make one really long movie. Safe length for a comedy is 90 minutes. 134 minutes is way too long.For the record, the marketing was good/bad. There were several scenes in many commercials for this movie that were then not in the final theatrical cut. Good, because then you haven't seen all the funny parts in the commercials, but then bad because some of those scenes I was looking forward to seeing more of, and they weren't there.
The cast is all capable:
- Paul Rudd is, again, fantastic. He’s probably the best comedic actor working now, and he is funny and genuine in this movie.
- Leslie Mann (the real-life Mrs. Apatow) is also funny and genuine – however I find her to be a little grating. I can’t tell if that’s her fault or the way the character is written. To be honest, both Pete and Debbie come off as terrible, annoying people by the end of the movie.
- Maude and Iris Apatow again play the two daughters Sadie and Charlotte. The ease for them is actor for their father and pretending to be their mother’s daughters. Maude in particular plays a confused teenager pretty well and could have a future in movies that aren’t her father’s – if she chooses to.
- Jason Segel has just a little more than a cameo, not as his character from Knocked Up as far as I can tell, but as Debbie’s slightly inappropriate physical trainer.
- Kristen Wiig’s writing partner Annie Mumolo plays Debbie’s best friend Barb who is married to Pete’s friend Barry, played by Robert Smigel (Triumph the Insult Comic Dog – and a comic writer). They are great in small parts. If this movie follows the last, the next movie will center around their characters!
- Megan Fox – I can’t believe I’m going to say this – is actually pretty hilarious as the dumb/pretty boutique employee. She essentially plays Megan Fox, but does a good job and is funny. Charlyne Yi plays the other boutique worker, who has some pretty hilarious scenes too.
- Albert Brooks plays Pete’s dad, and John Lithgow plays Debbie’s dad. Both are good, and each get the majority of the movie to be despised, then have a small redemption moment at the end of the movie.
- The best part of this movie is the cameo by Melissa McCarthy as the mother of another boy at the school. It would appear that they just let her go unscripted for about 10 minutes, most of which plays over the end credits. She is hilarious, and provided my only laugh-out-loud moment of the movie.
On the whole, I didn’t really enjoy this movie. I couldn’t tell if I found the characters unrelate-able because I’m not married and I don’t have kids – or if my gut reaction to them as horrible characters was the reason. Pete and Debbie really do spend most of their time arguing and keeping things from one another. They scream at each other in front of their kids, then act surprised when their kids scream at one another and back at them. If they are really struggling financially, then why do they go to that clearly expensive resort on vacation, and why is he driving a BMW and she’s driving a Lexus SUV? The first thought is that they have to sell the house – start with the cars, people. Both Mann and Rudd are great at delivering Apatow dialogue, but I just found both their characters so irritating that I wasn’t invested in the characters at all and found I didn’t really care what happened to them. I knew they loved one another despite fighting all the time, so watching them come to that realization was more boring than entertaining. It’s a shame when a comedy didn’t make me laugh out loud at all – except, like I said, Melissa McCarthy. Oh well, maybe it’s just me – and I’m okay with that. I’m 4 years from 40 yet, and I think I’m way happier than these characters. I’ll skip the next Apatow flick and wait for DVD.5 out of 10. Average – some cute and touching moments, especially between the two sisters, but really – the rest of the characters were terrible.
Bonus Video 1: Paul Rudd doing a top 10 list:
Bonus Video 2: More funny Rudd.