Netflix UK film review: This Is 40
Chris Bryant | On 03, Jul 2013
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann
Watch This Is 40 online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
A soft of Knocked Up sequel, This Is 40 does not provide the same brand of comedy as the original picture. Instead of stoner jokes and bromances, we watch Pete (Paul Rudd), Debbie (Leslie Mann) and their family go from bad to worse.
The comedy insists on squirming awkward giggles out of the viewer, as the couple struggle, time and time again. Whether Pete’s failing at his diet, or Debbie’s suspicion of her co-workers is growing, it’s clear that they are trying hard for their marriage. Every tiny failure adds to the list – and we have to see them deal with it. Some light laughs are a given with Judd Apatow – Chris O’Dowd and Jason Segel squabbling – but the bulk of the film will have you laughing at the wit and the phraseology, even though you’re well aware that you’re laughing at peoples’ lives. Based largely on Apatow’s own marriage to Leslie Mann (the two daughters are played by their actual two daughters), This Is 40 is hilarious, but above all honest.
The real pain comes later, when we meet their respective fathers. Pete’s is a pathologically lazy money-borrower with triplets, played brilliantly by Albert Brooks. Debbie’s (John Lithgow) is a previously absent, uncertain man filled with regret, who may well make the same mistake again. They both appear annoying yet harmless, until we see the strain they put on their offspring; for all of their flaws, Debbie and Pete are the most likable characters in the movie, so we side with them. It’s only in the final act, which is so desperate and exciting that you stay frozen in your seat, that we realise how attached we’ve actually become – Apatow knows that seeing a couple at their worst, no matter how well-written and foul-mouthed, is only balanced by seeing them at their best. Pulling together when their daughter is upset, they separately face off with a brilliantly improvised Melissa McCarthy and her son.
This Is 40 is wonderful, boasting the sharp lines and animated characters of an Apatow flick, but with an added heart of gold. Well, not gold. But a heart of swearing and arguments and cookies with drugs in them and music and lies and everything else that relationships are made of.
This Is 40 is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription.