MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Universal Pictures
Directed by Judd Apatow. Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann.
Midlife is always an interesting place to be. When you get there, you have to come to terms with the reality of where your life is going compared to the dreams of your younger self. If you are part of a couple and have started a family, your children are now moving into adolescence with ideas of their own, and the relationship with your parents is now on an adult level, as you begin to do more caregiving for them. Well, this is 40.
This is 40 tells the story of Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) who are planning a joint birthday party for themselves. Pete is trying to make money with an independent record label he’s started while Debbie is running a boutique that she owns. Both of their businesses are facing financial problems and they stand a chance of losing their home. But, since this is the California of millionaire writer-director Judd Apatow, the homes are lavish, the getaway weekends are luxurious, and the consumer comforts are everywhere. We aren’t in Ohio anymore, but in spite of its rarified air, This is 40 is entertaining and amusing for its 138 minutes nevertheless.
The dialogue is realistic, but there is a relentless irony to everything that might not cross generations very well. Whenever a couple who clearly love each other talk about ways of killing one another, not everyone will appreciate the joke. A running gag about a bully at their daughter’s private school crosses the line when Pete and Debbie start verbally abusing the bully and his mother.
This is 40 is a snapshot of contemporary upscale life in the 21st century but, not surprisingly, faith has little to do with anything. All of the big questions are here – mortality, fidelity, legacy, and moral choices – but dealt with at a smirking, jokey level. If we are to deal with all of the ages and stages of life, this movie reminds us to have a sense of humor about it. But, for now, deep thoughts will have to wait.
Two halos: A plotless and rambling observation of contemporary American family life, helped by a talented cast and the energy and fun that they bring to the project.
Three pitchforks: Non-stop swearing by members of the whole family, including kids; humorous scenes involving sex and bathroom activities; general ironic distancing from everything, including scenes of bullying; ostentatious consumerism.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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