Arts & Events

New Apatow film, This is 40, brings an odd mixture of adulthood gloom and childish humor to the screen

Watching Hollywood movies has taught me that not every “feel good movie of the fall” actually makes me feel good, most “fun for the whole family” movies usually leave me nauseous and “laugh-out-loud funny” is a euphemism for another bad Adam Sandler movie.
The problem is often that the intended viewers are not the only viewers, leaving the rest of the crowd to suffer through mediocre films.
Similarly, This is 40’s intended audience is those who are willing to put up with unhappiness to get to the laughs; people only looking for humor should not be discouraged, there are plenty of laugh-until-you-snort moments.
This is 40, the semi-sequel to Knocked Up, is directed and written by Judd Apatow and stars Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd. As a follow-up movie, parts of the old cast returned, including Jason Segel, with new stars such as Megan Fox, Lena Dunham and Chris O’Dowd. Struggling with work, family and relationships, the movie follows Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) through their trials and tribulations.
Coming into This is 40 with the expectation that this is an updated version of Knocked Up is wrong, leaving the viewer disappointed and without a correct understanding of the film. Knocked Up was a very funny film, chock-full of entertaining actors goofing around.
The comical nature of the film hid the mostly dark and difficult reality that two of the main characters were having a child.
This is 40 acknowledges that reality, making an effort to confront the hard truths about life, that pessimism can often overcome even the most optimistic people.
Instead of making a movie that solely emphasizes the happy points of existence, the movie also tosses in low points as counterbalances.
Comedies that delve into reality are tricky and tough to pull off; such failures as Funny People and Man of the Year demonstrate that humorous actors alone do not make a film funny. Balancing the dark moments of a movie with a hilarious bit can prove to make the movie even funnier, though the downside to mixing tragedy with comedy is that if the jokes are not funny, the movie is merely depressing.
This is 40 actually pulls off a great mixture of the two, combining quite enjoyable scenes and fun repartee with mostly sad situations and events. At points, the film drags along, trying to add spirit and dimension to otherwise partially bland main characters whose constant arguing becomes tiresome.
Those who were underwhelmed by the movie because it is not as funny as expected are missing the point: by the time people turn 40, life becomes harder and you endure more suffering.
This is a gloomy message for a supposedly funny film, but out of sadness often comes humor. Come see this movie for the laughs, the absurd number of cupcakes Rudd eats, and for the always smirk-inducing Segel. At one point Rudd, a grown man, puts an oversized starfish in his underwear, reason enough in my book to go see a film.
This is 40 plays Mar. 8 – 10 in Rausch Auditorium, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are $1 at the door. More info: