by Eric Paolini
To put my This is 40 experience simply, I was confused. Confused about what Judd Apatow was attempting to say. By focusing as much on the serious aspects of the story you get the sense Apatow was trying to make something more than a throw away comedy. An unfortunate aspect of many comedies is how easily forgotten they can be. If that is the case in This is 40 then the goal was not fully realized.
I believe Apatow was trying to show that being a middle aged married couple has difficulties even when you have a bit of money. At least that is the case for this one couple, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann). If that's what Apatow wants to get across, fine. But the missed opportunity is the chance to have some legitimate social commentary or at least a movie that could be taken more serious. Alter the comedic styling a little and then This is 40 becomes an American Beauty type dark comedy/social commentary. The raunch that is Apatow doesn't lend itself to a social commentary.
It isn't a full blown comedy but more of a dramedy that leans heavily on you liking Pete and Debbie."
Maybe that's not what Apatow was attempting. Possibly it was to make a funny movie that seemed real without any higher aspirations than that which is perfectly fine. It is the way the movie needs to be taken. It isn't a full blown comedy but more of a dramedy that leans heavily on you liking Pete and Debbie.
That is my biggest issue of this movie. I like Pete and Debbie enough to laugh a few times but not enough to be invested in their story. The acting of the terribly annoying daughters left much to be desired. I can't think of a moment when I enjoyed the presence of those two characters on the screen. The chuckles Rudd and Mann bring would not have been enough to enjoy the movie if it hadn't been for Albert Brooks. He saved this movie for me. His presence is enough to keep you watching.
The reason I brought up American Beauty before was because of the different type of laugh it brings on compared to This is 40. Both have similarities in subject matter (middle aged families experiencing trouble) but the impact and style are completely different. The social commentary on the American dream and suburbia in American Beauty is the reason it is one of my favorite movies. The style of laugh This is 40 inspires is much more hollow.
The types of comedies that I love tend to have those darker elements like American Beauty. On the surface it may seem unfair to compare these two movies. But during the parts that dragged in This is 40 my mind wandered to the brilliance of American Beauty. This is 40 will always be connected to American Beauty for what could have been.
Heading in to seeing This is 40 I was already aware that it wasn't a full comedy. I was under the assumption it tried to be more than a comedy. Unfortunately it really isn't either a comedy or something more important. It's a movie made tolerable by good actors and a generally good writer/director.
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