This is 40 (15)

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Review byMatthew Turner15/02/2013

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 134 mins

Enjoyable and emotionally engaging comedy with a frequently funny script, a likeable cast and a pair of terrific comic performances from Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Judd Apatow, This Is 40 stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (who appeared in Knocked Up, hence the sort-of sequel tag) as married couple Pete and Debbie, who are both about to turn 40, except Debbie has decided to tell everyone she's 38 instead.

As Pete's birthday party approaches, they have various arguments and have to deal with a number of different issues, including problems with their daughters (Apatow and real-life wife Mann's real-life daughters Maude and Iris Apatow as teenaged Sadie and 8 year old Charlotte), their differing relationships with their fathers (Albert Brooks and John Lithgow) and problems at work (Debbie suspects sexed-up shop employee Megan Fox might be stealing from her; music producer Pete is facing bankruptcy due to an upcoming Graham Parker album nobody wants).

The Good
Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are both excellent as Pete and Debbie, delivering terrific comic performances and generating a believable chemistry together. There's also very funny support from Albert Brooks (who almost makes off with the whole film), Maude and Iris Apatow (Iris, in particular, is a proper little scene-stealer), Megan Fox, Jason Segel (as Debbie's friend and personal trainer), Melissa McCarthy (as the outraged parent of a classmate of Sadie's) and Chris O'Dowd and Lena Dunham as Pete's bickering employees.

There's very little in the way of an actual plot, but Apatow's script presents a series of situations and set-ups that build a convincing portrait of both Pete and Debbie's day-to-day life and their overall marriage. To that end there's a series of very funny running gags, such as Sadie's obsession with Lost (warning: film contains Lost spoilers), Pete's use of the toilet for private time (i.e. making online Scrabble moves) or Brooks continually getting confused as to which of his young triplet sons is which.

The Great
Despite the Hollywood trappings of Pete and Debbie's lifestyle (huge house, etc), the film still manages to achieve a level of realism in its portrait of their marriage, complete with its many arguments and frustrations, but also conveys a moving sense of the underlying love and affection that ultimately keeps them together.

Thankfully, the film resists predictable plot choices (like, for example, Megan Fox's character hitting on Pete or Jason Segel's character trying to have an affair with Debbie) and, consequently, is not the film you might be expecting from the trailer (in a good way). Indeed, Brooks aside, the supporting characters are used relatively sparingly for this sort of thing, which works surprisingly well, since it focuses the film on Rudd and Mann.

Worth seeing?
This is 40 is an engaging, enjoyable and frequently laugh-out-loud funny comedy that for once, doesn't out-stay its two-hours-plus running time. Recommended.

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Content updated: 24/09/2018 22:55

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