Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

03 May 2013

This Is Forty

Is this really forty? Because I don't actually believe it.

If this is forty, no thanks.

Judd Apatow's latest movie has some really funny bits in it, but – and I mean this sincerely – why aren't there more of them? Instead of more bits, Apatow has included more sentiment: an extraordinary amount of sentiment, in fact.

This film is filled with deadbeat fathers who wheedle their sons out of money, with whining, awful children who just really, really need to see the last episode of Lost and hate all of their outfits.

And all of this would be fine, really, if there were just. more. funny. bits.

In truth, there are bits, they just aren't funny. The most baffling, I think, was a long-ish sequence about a painting by John Lennon and selling it on E-bay; it produces not one laugh and is completely extraneous to the plot. I thought it was headed somewhere, you know, like toward a joke later in the film, but no.

As it is, This Is 40 is funnier than Funny People, but, well, that isn't saying much, and This Is 40 is stuffed full of so much so-called morality that by the time the movie was over I was actually angry with it.

Did you know? You should never yell in front of your kids. And you should always tell your husband or wife the truth. And once you're married, you really should be married for life, because the institution of marriage is really special. Also, if you get pregnant, that means you're having a baby. No one ever thinks about ending a pregnancy, in case you're wondering. And, man, isn't music just great. Yeah, it's so great. Especially with that special someone. We should all have more of it in our lives. And wouldn't the world be so much better if we just hung out with our grandparents more? Totally. I love those guys. In fact, we would all just be so much happier, guys, if we didn't fight as much, and I know this logic is sort of circular, man, but just go with it.

There are other things to say. Paul Rudd is still really, really attractive. And Melissa McCarthy has two scenes, both of which she knocks out of the park. Her second scene is so good, that Apatow includes a 3-minute gag reel during the closing credits of McCarthy doing the same exact bit a second time while Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd laugh hysterically. It really is hilarious.

But these scenes are few and far between, and this is a 125-minute comedy that feels really long.

Mostly, I think I'm just sick of Judd Apatow's insistent moralizing. And his characters' moral points of view (none of which I think is any good) doesn't make any of them one bit happier. No thanks.