Parents Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann) prepare their daughters (Maude and Iris Apatow) for another day in “This Is 40.” The movie is about a couple who vow to make some major life changes as they each turn 40.

Universal Pictures/courtesy

Parents Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann) prepare their daughters (Maude and Iris Apatow) for another day in “This Is 40.” The movie is about a couple who vow to make some major life changes as they each turn 40.

‘This Is 40’ a smart look at middle-age headaches

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“This Is 40”

Rating: 3 out of 4 stars

Run time: 134 minutes

Starring: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Albert Brooks and Megan Fox

Now playing at Wildhorse Metropolitan Stadium Cinemas.

Andy Bockelman

Andy Bockelman is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society, and his movie reviews appear in Explore Steamboat and the Craig Daily Press. Contact him at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

Find more columns by Bockelman here.

There’s a time in every man and woman’s life when they don’t feel young anymore, but they still don’t consider themselves to be old. This is a time of introspection about past mistakes, the ever-shrinking window of the future and the unrelenting period of tedium and stress that is the present — “This Is 40.”

Nobody looks forward to his or her 40th birthday, but the realization that they’re over the hill has hit married couple Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann) hard. Their daughters (Maude and Iris Apatow) are growing up much too fast and life in general just seems to be flying by their eyes.

Along with mounting financial problems and all the other unpleasantness of aging, their respective midlife crises are made worse by their inability just to get along with each other. Tired of feeling tired and unhappy with being unhappy, Debbie insists that she, her husband and their kids try a little harder to improve their home life, be closer and just have a better sense of well-being.

However, no matter how many resolutions people make to better themselves, life inevitably gets in the way.

It would be inaccurate to say that Pete and Debbie have come a long way since they were first introduced as the uncle- and aunt-to-be in “Knocked Up.” Honestly, Rudd and Mann haven’t lost a step as the pair who, in spite of deeply loving one another, just can’t stop bickering about every bit of minutiae in their lives, whether it’s the use of Viagra — and the inherent stupidity it takes to surprise your body-conscious wife by telling her you popped that little blue pill — or how much toilet time is appropriate for a grown man.

Of course, if he’s taking his iPad into the bathroom, he’s clearly got more than one thing on his mind.

Mann’s actual daughters really come into their own as 13-year-old Sadie, who’s been hit hard by the living hell that is puberty and insists on spreading the misery, and 8-year-old Charlotte, who wavers between naive kid and self-appointed peacekeeper of the family.

It’s a wonder these girls are so well-adjusted, albeit spoiled, considering Pete and Debbie’s issues with their own parents. John Lithgow is sparingly but effectively used as Debbie’s distant father, whom she’s barely seen since childhood, while Albert Brooks is wonderfully obnoxious as Pete’s dad, a jovial screw-up who treats his son like a guilt-burdened ATM.

We’ve all been forced to bail a family member out of a jam, but not many people have to learn from their pop that they almost were not born to be cajoled out of a few bucks.

If there’s one thing Judd Apatow knows how to do in his scripts, it’s creating memorably shocking one-liners, best employed within the parameters of an R rating. Given the many obscenities of his directorial debut, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” it’s not his hardest R, but once some of these characters drop the pleasantries, look out.

Perhaps the best of the bunch in this particular feature is Melissa McCarthy’s unstoppable tirade as an angry mother of one of Sadie’s classmates (Ryan Lee). You don’t want to be stuck in that principal’s office. As a writer, Apatow easily can ratchet up the tension of the mundane and similarly relieve it with a few good laughs.

As a director, that job is a little trickier as he attempts to portion out both the humor and the insights. The man whose greatest successes are as a producer only gets behind the camera every few years, and his films as a director always go heavier dramatically. “Funny People” tipped the scales too much in that direction, but Apatow gets it right here with wife Mann and proxy Rudd, showing a couple that for all intents and purposes, should have the perfect marriage, if not for the little things like excessive cupcake consumption, secret smoking, two failing businesses ...

As usual, he refuses to edit himself and gives us a movie that’s considerably lengthier than it should be, but it’s also the most complete, the most authentic and the greatest indication that he’s grown as a filmmaker.

“This Is 40” shows us that even when you’re no spring chicken, life, love and everything else don’t have to come to a screeching halt, though if you look like Rudd and Mann, you don’t have to worry about much. And, if a name like Graham Parker and the Rumour means anything to you, you’re probably at a life stage where you’ll have a greater appreciation for everything going on here.

Andy Bockelman is a Craig resident, freelance writer and Denver Film Critics Society accredited film fanatic who occasionally reviews movies playing in Steamboat Springs.

Comments

john bailey 1 year, 3 months ago

yea, not a bad place to be stuck, at least we'll have the high ground to our advantage.LOL

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rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

A tip, John: When shooting downhill -- or uphill, for that matter -- aim lower than you might otherwise, as gravity will only have its effect on the lateral range, not the full range of the shot -- and for absolute accuracy, this is determined on a case-by-case basis. One well-placed shot, beats 20 wild ones, any day. ;-)

How did this forum end up on guns? Oh yeah, "high ground." If 40 is middle-age, I must be approaching death. Just don't tell my thumping heart.

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john bailey 1 year, 3 months ago

rhys, you brought up guns here. i may or may not have been refering to watching all the rats drowning in the mass hysteria going on in the lower elevations. oh i understand about shooting, much as i dislike em, i do get my practice in. anywho, merry christmas to you and yours. did you really agree with scott over there?<:D

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rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

john -- It actually hurt to agree with Scott, but I had no choice, he's right this time. Before somebody calls me on it, I've always found the gravity explanation a little lacking, in explaining trajectory at angle, since the round is in the air and therefore subject to gravity for the same time, and now I think sight distance over the barrel and mid-range trajectory play into the equation, but in any event, low is the rule, how much depending on the angle. For all my talk, I do not have the expertise of a trained sniper. Most of my experience is on the roughly level. Digression concluded.

My bad, if I mistook your high-ground remark to refer to the revolution. I've been listening to NPR all day, where gun control is a hot topic.

Merry Christmas yourself, and welcome to the (arguable) Age of Aquarius!!

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John St Pierre 1 year, 3 months ago

Now this is really ironic... the theater brings us this and Jack Reacher a film with extreme violent mass killngs... but god forbid they bring a film which will be nominated for many Academy Awards, that offers inspiration and food for thought... LINCOLN

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john bailey 1 year, 3 months ago

why was rhys' reply deleted? WTF.................

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rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

John -- I'm still figuring out the Today's new comment section -- and BTW Pilot, what happened to our nicknames? I miss the highwaystar, and all the others lacking in character -- and here's my report to date: Apparently if one replies to a reply to a reply (four deep) it makes you click "1 reply" at the lower left of the last comment, at which point that reply will appear. At some point it loses formatting, stripping linefeeds like in my latest 40-something reply, cramming everything into one paragraph. Tell me if that doesn't work, and join all us non-characters at our Hole Party!! Call for directions.

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rhys jones 1 year, 3 months ago

Correction: It was my 3-deep reply in the "Doomsday" forum which got butchered. As this is obviously still a work in progress, I don't trust "reply" any more.

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