Judd Apatow had dropped the ball again this year. “The Five-Year Engagement” (which he produced) was one of the worst romantic comedies I’ve ever seen and “This is 40” is probably the most disappointing sequel, “sorta-sequels” or whatever else Apatow wants to qualify it as, that I’ve ever seen.
Apatow is calling “This is 40” the “sorta-sequel” to his 2007 film “Knocked Up,” the hilarious comedy where Katherine Heigl’s character gets pregnant from a one-night stand with Seth Rogen’s character and drama and hilarity ensues. It was probably one of the best films that year; between the dialogue, story and actors being near perfection.
In “Knocked Up,” Heigl lives in her sister and brother-in-law’s (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd) guesthouse while she works at E! News. “This is 40” follows Mann and Rudd, the necessary supporting characters in “Knocked Up,” on their journey of marriage and life at age 40. For a sequel that every “Knocked Up” fan was looking forward to and one that is in the same universe, it’s as if Heigl and Rogen’s characters never even existed. What the heck???
I’m sorry, but you’re not going to mention Heigl or Rogen’s characters one single time throughout the ENTIRE two hour and 15 minute film, then what are we doing here? Especially when we see family parties and life changing events happening around Mann and Rudd’s characters. If you are making a movie within the same universe as the previous one, it doesn’t make any sense not to at least mention those characters that the franchise loves so much.
“This is 40” follows Debbie (Mann and Apatow’s real-life wifey) and Pete (Rudd) as they experience life past the age of 40. Mann owns a ladies clothing boutique and Rudd is continuing his career as a record label manager. Their two kids Charlotte (Iris Apatow) and Sadie (Maude Apatow) have grown up a bit, one an angry teenager, the other still striving for attention. Debbie is dreading her 40th birthday, while Pete is struggling with holding the finances together to keep his family afloat.
Apatow’s screenplay is genuine and at times truly hilarious, but why did he fail to mention Debbie’s sister in the plotline? With the subplot of Debbie and her father (John Lithgow) having problems, everyone in the audience must be wondering where in the hell her sister (Heigl) is. It’s fine if the stars of “Knocked Up” couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do cameos, but to not have a mention at all is pretty ridiculous.
At the 45-minute mark, it seems like “This is 40” was going to come to end, so what does the last hour and a half have to offer?: A lot of crying, moaning and contemplating life’s issues, that’s what. Also to mention that there is a little seed planted in “40” that becomes completely manipulative and phony, but I won’t give that away.
Melissa McCarthy, who plays the mom of one of the students that is harassing Charlotte on Facebook, is a joy to watch. It saddens me she is only in the film for less than 20 minutes.
Megan Fox, who plays the lead sales girl at Debbie’s shop, certainly adds to the film with her own charms. If anyone is a fan of her work in “Jennifer’s Body,” (which I loved), then you will absolutely adore her in the film.
Leslie Mann does a fantastic job leading the film and it’s hard not to love her snarky, comedic character. I only wish her husband had a better screenplay in store for her.
“This is 40” is the never-ending manipulative occasionally funny story about a couple experiencing multiple problems in their marriage and home life. Critics will praise Mann’s and Rudd’s performances (which are fantastic), but “Knocked Up” fans will most likely be disappointed.