Last weekend, with a big snow storm that arrived and left as quickly as any boomerang, leaving 10 inches in its wake (unlike any of my boomerangs), I decided to spend a day on the sofa catching up on movies I missed in the theater.
‘This is 40’ is the latest Apatow production and since he’s generally good for some easy laughs, I thought ‘yay, fun few hours ahead’ and hunkered down with the dog and some tea.
NOTE: If you have not yet seen ‘This is 40’ and you really want to, spoilers ahead though I will question your sanity. Alternatively, if you want to save yourself $4.99 and 2 hours of your life, simply follow a Lexus out to one of the nicer suburbs in your city and eavesdrop at the local Starbucks. It’ll pretty much replicate this movie and might be funnier.
Media Driven Synopsis: We catch up with the couple from ‘Knocked Up’ (not the stoner and Katherine Heigel, who – frighteningly – would have made a better movie), but the whiny red head (Debbie) and Paul Rudd (Pete). The notion is they’re both turning 40 and this is their life. Laughs ensue.
Actual Story: The most self indulgent, whiny, pointless, unfunny portrayal of upper middle class angst, I have ever seen. And believe me, I’ve seen a lot of Woody Allen movies, including all of the bad ones.
The problems start at the beginning, as we’re given the snapshot of life for Pete and Debbie. We learn that Debbie works out obsessively with her trainer, Jason Segel (?), Pete rides daily, they reside in a large mansion with swimming pool, choose between a BMW and Lexus, have 2 kids and jobs which apparently don’t involve much of anything resembling work. But, here’s the kicker, da-da-da-daaa, she sneaks cigarettes and he sneaks cupcakes. I guess 40 really sucks kids.
Maybe there’s going to be a healthcare crisis or a dying parent, some spousal cheating or undercurrent of deeper meaning ‘is this what its all about?’.. maybe something to create some drama or point to this story? Nope, this is an Apatow movie. The pool is clean, the sky is blue and cloudless, everyone’s a little whiny, but basically life is pretty damn easy. Sure Pete has to use Viagra and the kids spend too much time on their iPads, Debbie has a shoplifting clerk and the Grandfather is Albert Brooks.. but really? These are the problems we’re going to be dealing with over the next 150 minutes?? Really?
Well, maybe I shortchanged the script… hmm.. lets see
- Debbie turns 40 and makes a big fuss, pretending to be 38
- Paul Rudd plays Scrabble on the toilet
- The kids don’t always play nice together
- Grandpa needs some financial support
- Pete’s business isn’t doing well because he wants to support crap aging artists who make mediocre music. (Boo. Hoo).
The nexus of the movie comes after a grindingly unfunny 90 minutes when we find out that Debbie is pregnant. *gasp*
Middle class people. Middle class problems. And I’m starting to think every single one of my friends has a life with more action, purpose, meaning and humor. And my friends aren’t all that funny.
Sure this might be 40 for a successful Hollywood director with an actress wife and two adorable kids living in Southern California, but it doesn’t resemble 40 for anyone I know. All the 40 somethings I know are freaked out by how they’re ever going to pay for college and/or retire before 80, and that’s before we even get into trying to care for aging parents who aren’t Albert Brooks. They’re struggling with careers, muffin tops, kids with autism, leaky roofs and who taught the tot how to lick the phone. Never mind the single 40 year olds..
We’re still trying to find a mate, or getting accustomed to a mate-less existence, just struggling to pay bills and afford healthcare while wondering whether we’ll ever own a house.. never mind one with a pool and en suites. And all of us, all of us 40ish people, are thinking bigger thoughts – about life, death and what’s it all about. Something this movie avoided in favor of unfunny dick jokes.
At the movie’s conclusion we are relieved to learn that *sigh* Pete and Debbie ‘might’ need to sell the palatial manse, but that they’ll make it work in order to have that 3rd kid that neither of them wants.
I guess a real ’40’ isn’t very funny. But neither is ‘This is 40’.
In reality we don’t throw ourselves catered parties, or struggle with selling the John Lennon drawing we own (yes, trauma abounds in this movie). We don’t have charmingly whimsical precious kids who share our California King sized bed with Frette sheets and we don’t take off for a weekend of drugs and cake (we don’t need the whole weekend). ‘This isn’t poignant, real or touching and it sure ain’t funny.