As bad as 2012 has been for comedies in general, I was extremely hopeful that This is 40 would be a nice, final addition to the few good comedies that have come out this year. And when I say "few," I mean 21 Jump Street. Seriously though, how many good comedies can you name that have come out in 2012? Maybe I'm becoming overly critical in my old age, because I have now seen an overabundance of R-rated comedies, but this year has been very sad. I decided, however, to place my hope in Judd Apatow, even though he lost me with Funny People. I'm also a huge fan of Paul Rudd, who, although not funny himself, has been involved in many comedies that I have loved. But, the real hook is the kids. I'm a sucker for child actors, whether they be comedic or dramatic. So, me and my overly-critical self (and my girlfriend) went to see This is 40...
I must say that the plot was extremely sporadic and never really took shape. There was a lot of arguing and fighting and kid drama and parent drama, but there was absolutely no flow to the story. Maybe Apatow was attempting to show that your life is rarely defined by two hours, as it is in the movies. Nevertheless, I didn't care for that. If he was truly trying to display a real family with parents in their 40s, then he should have made the family more real. As any true southerner would say, "Those kids needed to be beat!". I know it wasn't meant to be a family film, but it's highly unlikely that ANY parent, in that setting, would allow their twelve year old to cuss them out like that. But, oh well, what do I know.
Little did I know, until the credits starting rolling, that the kids in the film were actually Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann's children. So, for Apatow and Mann's sake, let's hope that their children don't cuss them out like that. Regardless, the kids were great, as was the entire cast, providing for some really great moments.
Apatow's younger daughter, Iris, stole the show as Charlotte. Her character's innocence and humor really shone among the often dreary family, and anyone would love to have her as a kid. The older daughter, Maude, whose character was named Sadie, also did a great job in her role, however unrealistic it may have been. Her teenage emotions and drama were absolutely hilarious, and her fascination with LOST made the story much more personal for me.... not even kidding. Paul Rudd's performance was as mediocre as usual, but Leslie Mann did a fantastic job, as wife Debbie. This is 40 really felt like it was Debbie's story, and everyone else was just there to screw it up. On top of these main characters, there were many great smaller roles, such as John Lithgow's turn as Debbie's dad, Annie Mumolo's Barb, Megan Fox's Desi, Tim Bagley's Dr. Pellagrino, and Melissa McCarthy's Catherine.
The overall cast was fantastic, but I would say that Apatow missed the mark with a few characters. First, Charlyne Yi's Jodi had way too big of a role, and her storyline with Fox's Desi made the film run an extra ten minutes, at least. Second, the usually great Jason Segal's Jason just didn't really seem like a Jason Segal character. Segal is not a character actor, and that is what messed him up. He is meant to act like himself. Finally, I don't understand why Graham Parker was so freakin important. The excessive amount of characters just spiraled out of control, in my opinion, and this could be the reason that the film had no real flow.
This is 40 was nowhere close to the same level as 21 Jump Street, but it was the second best comedy with a number in its title in 2012. There were many, many hilarious moments, but the film just never really came together and ran a little too long. Apatow has a great comedic mind, but this was not his best work. It almost seemed like it was forced, due to the lack of storyline. However, the addition of the children really made for some great humor and some good performances, which will not be forgotten. I would suggest This is 40 for any R-rated comedy lovers like myself, mostly because many of the other ones this year have sucked. I give This is 40 2.89 out of 5 stars.