‘This Is 40′: The Reviews Are In!

Critics are leaning toward the positive side on Judd Apatow's family comedy.

If there is anyone who can make the overly familiar movie plot theme of making marriages work and growing old gracefully unique and fun, it is R-rated comedy success story and recent MTV Pioneer speaker Judd Apatow. His new movie “This is 40” explores that familiar territory in a new way because it is partially inspired by Apatow’s real life, not to mention the fact that it’s been dubbed a sort-of sequel to his hit “Knocked Up.”

So what does the critical mass think of this Apatow-scripted and directed effort that stars his wife Leslie Mann, daughters Maude and Iris and buddy Paul Rudd? Opinions so far over at Rotten Tomatoes are mixed-positive. Let’s see what all the fuss is about as we read through the “This is 40″ reviews!

The Story
“Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their characters from Apatow’s ‘Knocked Up,’ playing an upper-middle-class Los Angeles married couple raising two adorable daughters while dealing with their own persistent communication problems. In the years since, the kids (played by Maude and Iris Apatow) have grown into a 13-year-old and an 8-year-old, which brings new parenting challenges, but as Rudd and Mann both prepare to turn 40, they’re finding that troubles at home are being back-burnered by troubles at work. The boutique Mann owns is missing a large sum of money, which has likely been stolen by one of her two shopgirls: sexy Megan Fox or mousy Charlyne Yi. And Rudd’s dream of starting an indie record label to promote his favorite aged musicians is about to die, because nobody buys music any more — least of all from ancient rockers. Apatow stuffs all of this and more into “This Is 40″: the money troubles, the struggle to protect children from harm in the iPad/Facebook era, and the way Rudd and Mann often seem to be working at cross purposes.” — Noel Murray, A.V. Club

The City-Specific Jokes
“Part of the problem going in is that ‘This Is 40′ is a member of the mini-genre of west-of-the-405 movies. This won’t mean much to people who don’t live in Los Angeles, but such films — arguably launched by James L. Brooks’ insufferable Spanglish in 2004 — examine a species of people (many of them in the upper realms of show business) who live in a bubble of extreme affluence in the Brentwood vicinity and seem to devote all their time to their appearance, diet, exercise regimens, status and neuroses without exhibiting any regard for or awareness of the outside world. Such people are a breed apart, ripe for derision and satire but due little sympathy from the general public.” — Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

The Apatow Effect
” ‘This Is 40′ is every inch a Judd Apatow movie, from the pop culture references and potty mouths to the blunt body humor and escapist drug use. Like all the movies he’s directed — and it’s amazing to think there have only been three previous ones, given his name-brand value — it’s a good 20 minutes too long. … As writer and director, Apatow seems more interested in finding tough nuggets of truth than easy laughs. You can see a bit more clearly what he was aiming for with the ambitious failure of the serious, self-indulgent ‘Funny People’ from 2009. Much of the banter between longtime Los Angeles marrieds Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) can be very funny, but frequently it’s raw and painful as they have the kind of conversations about kids, finances and sex that might make many people in the audience feel an uncomfortable shiver of familiarity.” — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press

The Final Word
“In a town that runs on philanthropic fund-raisers and celebrity activism, Pete and Debbie support no cause beyond themselves. They are complacent, over-entitled and kind of mean. But the film’s refusal of the detachment that would make them easy targets for judgment is finally a mark of integrity, even generosity. You are brought into a state of intimacy, of complicity, with characters you may find it difficult to like but who, at the same time, require constant affirmation of their goodness. And they are good, or at least good enough. So is the movie. It snuggles up next to you, breathes in your face, dribbles crumbs on your shirt and laughs at its own jokes. Such proximity makes it easy to notice flaws, and there are a lot of loose ends and a few forced conclusions. But, then again, the acceptance of imperfection is Mr. Apatow’s theme, so a degree of sloppiness is to be expected. That’s life.” — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Check out everything we’ve got on “This is 40.”