This is 40 (1 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars)
Directed and Written by Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin, Funny People)
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Maude and Iris Apatow
If this is what 40 looks like count me out! After recently watching Before Midnight, which is a beautiful look at what love can become in middle age, This is 40 pales in comparison. Both have a darker impression about the way in which 40 effects people, Midnight is poetic in its realism, while 40 is a shrill look at whiny white middle class people.
This is 40 follows characters from another Apatow film, Knocked Up. In Knocked Up Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) were examples of marriage to Deb's newly pregnant sister. This film shows the couple five years later, and with each other them turning 40. 40 follows Pete as he has started his own record label, Debbie as a boutique owner, and their children Sadie (Maude Apatow) in her tween years, and Charlotte (Iris) still as a young 8 who is innocent, but not dumb to her parents and families changes based on age. The film follows this family, their extended family, co-workers, and friends as they connect with or often pointlessly connect with the central characters.
Throughout the years Apatow has had this disjointed form of direction/storytelling. In 40 Year Old Virgin there were the people who worked with Andy, they were relevant, had their mini side adventures, but Andy was the central focus, and the film was solid. The same thing could be said Knocked Up, and Ben. Ben's quirky friends were a bit off the wall, but they all tied into the story well enough to make sense. Enter the downturn, with Funny People, Apatow continued these little side gags, pushing the envelope to create irrelevant side jokes, side characters and tangential moments which take away from the film. 40 has a solid message, but these tangential moments make this film lose the momentum of the emotional relevance.
There is no point to Jason Segal, Melissa McCarthyor Charlene Yi within the context of this film. Segal's "body by Jason" is pointless and off topic. Yi's high satanic voice is funny, but what's the point? McCarthy is also a riot, with her rant, but was there a point? Without these characters there would have been no laughs. Yet the film should, and could have focused on its intention marriage, partnership, family. Most of these side characters never add to the plot, or help do what the movie should intend to do, define Debbie and Pete, or even make them like able.
The problem Apatow has is that on their own who wants to watch as defined in Virgin "An unfunny version of Everybody Loves Raymond?" That's what this film presents, a story about to people who consistently belittle, bemoan, and shrilly attack one another. On their own Pete and Debbie are terrible people who have created a vicious cycle within their children that was passed down from each of their dead beat dads. The highlight of this film is the children Maude and Iris, they doe a fantastic job, and should be applauded for the realism within their roles.
At the end of the day 40, is film which is too long, a jumbled mess, and proves Apatow needs to change his formulaic tune to his films, because the formula is broken. Go back to the drawing board, and bring audiences something more like 40 Year Old Virgin, or even Knocked Up, or better yet create something original once again proving you are as innovative as the film critics deemed you at their awards this past year. This is a severe disappointment.