Monday, December 31, 2012

Man on Film: This Is 40

It seems as though with every new Judd Apatow film the story he is spinning is more personal than the last. This Is 40 certainly furthers this notion. Unfortunately, as Apatow's films have gotten more personal, they've also gotten less relatable. And less funny.

Oh, yeah. Megan Fox is in the movie, too.
Now I don't want to sound like I'm not allowing for a filmmaker to grow or evolve. Obviously Apatow is not going to be making the same films at 45 that he was at 38. In his case, though, it means that he has gone from making The 40-Year-Old Virgin to This Is 40--a film that would be more at home in James L. Brooks's oeuvre than Apatow's were it not for the odd descent into ribaldry that would be out of place in a Brooks film--over the course of seven years. That may seem like a denigration of the works of James L. Brooks, who is a damn fine comedic director. That is not the intention at all. As Good As It Gets, Broadcast News, and Terms of Endearment are all fine films. It's just that The 40-Year-Old Virgin seemed to signify a paradigm shift in comedy. Then everything that Apatow seemed to touch as a producer turned to gold--coarse, bawdy gold.

As Apatow's films have gotten to be of a more personal nature, they've gotten more insular. Again, this isn't necessarily a bad thing, in and of itself, but This Is 40 (and for that matter Funny People) doesn't really click. The laughs don't come. It meanders too much, as Apatow is wont to do. It runs long. And the laughs don't come.

All of this is too bad because it means the talents of Paul Rudd, Chris O'Dowd, Albert Brooks, Jason Segel, and Leslie Mann are misspent. Michael Ian Black and Lena Dunham aren't spent at all. Perhaps worse than all of that, it is more than hard to buy into the central conceit that Pete and Debbie actually still love each other.

At least Melissa McCarthy had two scenes and the fantastic bonus footage in the end credits.

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