Better than the Real Thing: This is 40

The latest victim of trailer spoileritis is This is 40. The sprawling, bloated new dramedy from Judd Apatow has all of its high moments highlighted in its advertising, unfortunately leaving little else for the audience in the way of entertainment, unless watching Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann squabble over household finances qualifies as such.

This isn’t to say that this is a bad movie, just a disappointing one. Apatow films have drifted away from straight comedy (The Forty-Year-Old Virgin) to more “serious” films with important things to say about the regrets of the rich and famous (Funny People) to the trials of parenting and aging (This is 40) with a few punchlines strewn in for flavour. This isn’t necessarily bad in itself, except Apatow films tend to have a formula: they’re largely plotless. For a comedy, this isn’t a disadvantage – as long as it’s funny, who cares? But for dramas, or dramedies, plot is important. Without it, the film feels sloppy and shapeless – is it trying to make a point or trying to make the audience laugh? You can choose one or the other, rarely can a movie do both. This is 40 doesn’t fit into the latter category.

Just as a brief example, This is 40 has about ten plots, none of which are entirely resolved, such as:

– Leslie Mann’s business is missing a sizeable amount of cash, presumably stolen by one of her two employees

– Paul Rudd’s business is in financial trouble because he doesn’t sign popular artists but “respectable” ones

– They (Rudd and Mann) may have to sell their beloved house to keep their finances afloat

– They have unresolved issues with 1) an absent father (John Lithgow) and 2) a mooching father (Albert Brooks)

– The film throws a late third act twist for the couple that could be a game-changer, but because it happens in the third act, not much can be done about it

So with all the comedy out of the way (or at least the very best bits) in the trailer, the unspoiled scenes from This is 40 are the dramatic ones. And without a cohesive plot, it feels underdeveloped. It feels like a collection of loosely-related vignettes about middle age – just with the same characters throughout each one. What the film tries to do in over two hours, the trailer does in two minutes. And it’s consistently funnier too. Check it out below:

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One Response to Better than the Real Thing: This is 40

  1. Nostra says:

    Yeah, this also disappointed me quite a bit. It just wasn’t funny enough…

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