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Review: This Is 40

PUBLISHED: 09:19 15 February 2013 | UPDATED: 09:19 15 February 2013

This Is 40

This Is 40

Copyright: © 2012 Universal Studios. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

You'll laugh a lot - but without much gratitude. As a writer and a producer, Judd Apatow knows funny. As a director, however, he feels the need to give us a bit more, something real and truthful.

He really shouldn’t – not on our account. His fourth film is another tug of war between hilarity and tedium.

You never go more than three minutes without a laugh and probably no more than 15 without sneaking a look at the watch to see how much longer is left.

The “Sort of Sequel to Knocked Up” tagline is really just a ruse to lure in audiences for an opportunity to laugh through the Apatow family tears.

Married couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann – the real-life Mrs Apatow) were supporting characters in Knocked Up. But this film moves them and their two daughters (Apatow and Mann’s own Iris and Maude) into centre stage. They live in a big LA house they can’t afford and are having a joint midlife crisis as they both hit 40.

Touchingly, the film is sincere in its desire to address real family issues.

The couple have financial problems and the way their feelings, both for each other and their children, flit between love and hatred is, in theory, much more honest than the standard Hollywood family drama. But it still rings false.

The words say they are struggling and hurting, whereas the visuals communicate contentment and success. It has that same detached concern as when celebrities sleep rough for the night to raise awareness about homelessness.

Mann is a talented performer in supporting roles but, however adoringly Apatow films her, she’s not a leading lady. Her voice is too whiny and the face not distinctive enough. Jason Segel’s character role as her personal trainer is there to tell us how hot her body is.

Putting your family up there on the screen is utterly indulgent but then indulgence is an integral part of any Apatow film.

He allows this one to ramble on for well over two hours like it’s the let’s-all-meet-up-at-Bilbo’s-house at the start of The Hobbit with much better jokes. No wonder he doesn’t know where to cut. All of it good and yet none of it essential. It’s all so much of a muchness.

THIS IS 40 (15)

DirectorL Judd Apatow

Starring: Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Iris Apatow, Maude Apatow, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow and Megan Fox

Length: 134 mins

***

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