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This Is 40(2012)
Comedy updating the lives of Pete and Debbie from 'Knocked Up' (2007). Record label owner Pete and his shop-owning wife Debbie are now living a seemingly contented life in the suburbs with their two young daughters, Sadie and Charlotte. But the growing financial strain on Pete's business, combined with Debbie's increasing dread of her upcoming 40th birthday, soon causes the pair - actually just Debbie - to question their current lifestyle choices.
For more about This Is 40 and the This Is 40 Blu-ray release, see This Is 40 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on March 14, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, Jason Segel, Robert Smigel, Annie Mumolo
Director: Judd Apatow
» See full cast & crew
This Is 40 Blu-ray Review
Apatow's "Sort-of Sequel to Knocked Up" sort-of works and sort-of doesn't...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, March 14, 2013
The following comedy has been approved for Appropriate Audiences by the Middle-Aged Association of America, Inc. "Appropriate Audiences" being those sailing through their thirties, approaching or entering their forties, or fondly looking back on the good ol' days, when kids had no choice but to sit down for dinner with mom and dad. Having children, mortgage payments, dual careers, a two-car garage, more than five wedding anniversaries under your belt and maybe a midlife crisis or two will certainly help, and your enjoyment of This Is 40 will increase exponentially with each marriage milestone that's been checked off your list. To writer/director Judd Apatow's credit, 40 is uncompromisingly funny. Hilarious even. I can't remember the last time my wife and I laughed this hard during the same moments in the same movie. But Apatow's fourth directorial effort is also his most underdeveloped and unfocused, playing out like a series of loosely related bits and sketches cobbled together around a singular theme: a healthy marriage isn't always healthy. The laughs are in place and any given scene kills, but the film never quite congeals, delivering far more day-in-the-life riffs than the meaningful insights Apatow attempts to convey.
When trouble and tension strikes, loving but squabbling spouses Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) start to turn on each other. Pete's record label is on the verge of bankruptcy, his needy father (Albert Brooks) is still hitting him up for money and his his friends, Ronnie (Chris O'Dowd) and Cat (Lena Dunham), aren't offering much support. Debbie's having problems of her own. Her 40th birthday is rapidly approaching, her absentee dad (John Lithgow) reenters her life, money is being slowly and mysteriously drained from her clothing boutique (Megan Fox's promiscuous employee Desi is the prime suspect) and, with her Knocked Up sister's mistake-turned-miracle a distant memory, she finds herself facing an unplanned pregnancy of her own. Inevitably, lies replace truths as Pete and Debbie try to keep their heads above water and keep the peace. But with two children already in tow, testy 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow) and lighthearted 8-year-old Charolette (Iris Apatow), and marital and personal issues mounting by the day, it's much easier said than done.
Ditching Knocked Up's dysfunctional not-so-one-night-standers Ben and Allison (Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl don't even make cameo appearances) for scene-stealers Pete and Debbie was a bold choice, and without a doubt the right one. The bloodthirsty sequel gods have long demanded filmmakers check in with their first film's main characters, but Apatow wisely resists such commands, forging ahead into brave new territory without looking back. Some will complain -- others already have -- but it makes for a fresh sequel and an even fresher take on marriage. In an almost uncomfortable blurring of the lines between reality (Apatow and Mann's real-life marriage and parenting) and fiction, the writer/director draws from his own experience and taps at least thirteen veins that should be intimately familiar to anyone with anything resembling a functional marriage. The fact that Pete and Debbie are intensely loyal to one another, even at their darkest hour, is refreshing; that there isn't an infidelity subplot present at any point even more so. Their marital spats are vicious and their arguments epic, but God help the fool who takes a shot into their castle from outside the family walls. For all the exaggerated comedy and genre bait-n-switching, Pete and Debbie's relationship is rooted in a startlingly convincing marriage. No longer the eccentric bit players of Knocked Up fame, they're now the fully realized, fully flawed but wholly committed husband and wife duo of This Is 40.
Apatow's casting of his own children was also a bold choice, and... without a doubt the right one as well. Iris and Maude Apatow are both talented and sharp as a tack, not to mention two of the most delightful screen kids in recent memory. Maude's Sadie is somehow a typical, at-times irrational electronics-addled teen and a well-meaning girl with a good head on her shoulders doing her best to cope with school, life, a little sister and two bickering parents. No small task. Likewise, little Iris' Charlotte is a pitch-perfect obnoxious sibling and a disarmingly sweet kid with a cute-tyke streak and budding comedic timing. (Even though it's clear most of the whip-snap lines she delivers are streaming out of Papa Apatow's mind rather than her own.) The rest of the supporting cast impresses too. Brooks and Lithgow are fantastic as Pete and Debbie's respective failed fathers, Melissa McCarthy tears through an especially rib-cracking showdown, and Segel, Smigel and Fox (best law firm name ever) fill in the gaps of Pete and Debbie's social lives nicely. (Segel and Smigel hone one-off gags that mean nothing to the plot but work all the same, while Fox takes a surprising left turn from aloof, potentially irritating sexpot to faithful employee and trusted confidant, becoming one of Debbie's most caring friends in the process.)
So ends any disproportionately glowing praise of This Is 40. Not only does a central story never really emerge, the film is distractingly episodic and ends as abruptly as it leaps from one fight to the next. It meanders. It drags. Sometimes it comes to a dead stop. It's strung together like a recurring SNL sketch "Best Of" collection. Worse, at a hefty 134-minutes (137 with the Unrated Cut) it's bloated and overlong, and in desperate need of a more merciless edit from someone equipped to tell Apatow "no, save it for the Blu-ray." Had the director gutted his theatrical version -- which, considering how funny most scenes are, would admittedly be an extremely difficult undertaking -- it would have been that much better for it. The script clatters behind the characters like stringed cans trailing behind a newlywed's car, with at least six different plots and a dozen unnecessary subplots that could have been removed wholesale. Pete and Debbie are mired in an assault from all fronts: marriage crises, career crises, parenting crises, financial crises, medical crises, father-abandonment crises... it's too much for one film to contain, much less balance. Too much for one director to juggle, much less manage. And it's a shame. This Is 40 is easily one of the funniest comedies of 2012, with a terrific cast, a screen marriage that doesn't pull punches or take cheap shots, and enough heart to make the laughs mean something. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most unfulfilling comedies of 2012, with enough filler to render what could have been a lean, mean rom-com classic an ungainly, overweight genre pic.
This Is 40 Blu-ray, Video Quality
This Is 40 doesn't look a day over 22 thanks to Universal's able-bodied 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. Colors are warm and convincing, with strong primaries, pleasant skintones and deep blacks. Contrast is bright, summery and, above all, supportive, and detail is excellent. Edges are cleanly defined and naturally crisp, fine textures are nicely resolved on the whole, closeups are quite striking, delineation is suitably revealing and the film's light veneer of grain is intact. More importantly, the encode is proficient, without anything in the way of serious artifacting, banding or other issues, although some negligible crush, the slightest hint of intermittent night-scene noise and a few over-saturated faces sneak in. Ultimately, if you don't fall madly in love with This Is 40, it won't be because of its video presentation.
This Is 40 Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a bit of a front-heavy affair, with rather flat spatial interiors and limited soundfield immersion that nevertheless rallies behind the film's everyday-life atmosphere and kind-of, sort-of works well. Dialogue is clear and intelligible at all times, with menacing pre-fight whispers rising and rising toward throaty mid-argument screams. Prioritization is spot on too, and dynamics are decent enough, all things considered. LFE output is restrained, though, as is rear speaker activity. Big laughs are often backed by some welcome low-end punch (Pete's bike crashing into an open car door comes to mind), but such aggressive sound design isn't par for the course. Similarly, the rear speakers are generally subdued, minus those moments when an open environment takes center soundstage or a scene is more crowded or a chaotic than the norm. Again, though, more often than not it's two to four people in a room bickering. Nothing more. And that's fine, just don't expect anything more enveloping or engaging. The live-performance music is as full and involving as it gets.
This Is 40 Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Is 40 Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This Is 40 is a mashup of a classic perils-of-family-life comedy you'd expect from a seasoned director -- bitingly funny yet frighteningly familiar -- and the kind of uneven, over-indulgent comedy struggling first-time indie filmmakers try to crank out before cutting their teeth. It's hilarious, its cast is fantastic (particularly Rudd, Mann and the Apatow girls) and it breaks the rules of sequel-making with fresh ease. But it's also a lumbering brute of a film too sparse and hit-or-miss in its episodic bits to justify its distended 134-minute runtime. With stricter self-edits and a stronger underlying story, This Is 40 could've easily been the best comedy of 2012. Universal's Blu-ray release is much stronger. While its front-heavy DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track falls a touch flat (by way of the film's sound design, not its quality), its video transfer is a down-to-earth beauty and its supplemental package boasts two cuts of the movie and more than six hours of bonus content, including an audio commentary, more than an hour of deleted, extended and alternate lines and scenes, several documentaries and featurettes, and other goodies. Love it or leave it, the Blu-ray edition of This Is 40 is worth a rent, if not a blind buy, depending on how deep your affection for Apatow, Rudd and Mann runs.
This Is 40: Other Editions
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• This is 40 Blu-ray - January 29, 2013
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet digital copy Combo Pack release of director Judd Apatow's This is 40, the "sort of" sequel to Knocked Up. The irreverent comedy stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, and streets on March ...
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