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  • 12
  • Comedy
  • 2012
  • 134 mins

This Is 40

This Is 40


Judd Apatow's sort-of sequel to Knocked Up is a comedy of mid-life crisis.


This Is 40 opens with Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) enjoying loud sex together in the shower, only to argue about Pete's furtive use of Viagra ("I don't want a turbo-penis," Debbie complains, "I like your medium soft one!"). Both hitting their forties within the same week, but married with children, neither Pete nor Debbie is exactly The 40 Year Old Virgin, suggesting that writer/director Judd Apatow has come a long way since his 2005 feature debut - although you might recognise this couple from his second feature Knocked Up (2007), to which This Is 40 forms a loose sequel.

Later, Pete interrupts yet another of their arguments to remind his wife that they should be talking to each other the way their therapist has told them to. The argument then proceeds no less viciously than before, only with each onslaught absurdly prefaced with a barbed reference to the speaker's feelings. In fact, much of this film feels like a prolonged therapy session, as the two characters, anxious in different ways about the onset of middle age, work through their various 'issues' about family, work, sex and parenthood. Yet their decidedly first-world problems are all (too) neatly resolved in the end, making for a sanitised domestic comedy drama about nice middle-class folk always comfortably able to fall back on massive safety nets.

In an improvised scene, an angry fellow parent (Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids) accuses Pete and Debbie of being "a bullshit bank-commercial couple." Hard to disagree – but where Apatow fails to fill the lengthy screen time with much of consequence, there are at least shrewd observations on the middle years, and laughs aplenty. A pity, though, that, as with shower sex, any edginess is offset by a desire to stay clean.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Jason Segel, Leslie Mann, Iris Apatow, Megan Fox, Maude Apatow, Paul Rudd
  • Director: Judd Apatow
  • Screen Writer: Judd Apatow
  • Producer: Judd Apatow, Clayton Townsend, Barry Mendel
  • Photographer: Phedon Papamichael
  • Composer: Jon Brion

In a nutshell

Middle-aged, middle-class and, if we're frank, a little middling and 'medium soft', the uneven This Is 40 indulges its flabby excess of subplots, but is redeemed by some genuine belly laughs.

by Anton Bitel

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