A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that This Is 40 is a sort-of sequel to Judd Apatow's popular comedy Knocked Up, following that movie's supporting characters, Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd), as they hit mid-life and start taking their marriage, and each other, for granted. It's classic Apatow, combining raunchy humor with tender moments, sometimes in the same scene, in ways that seem both realistic and entertaining. There are lots of sexual references and some intimate moments (though not much actual nudity beyond a woman's breasts), suggested oral sex, graphic bathroom humor, a scene of adults getting very high on pot cookies, other drinking/smoking, kids and teenagers misbehaving, and tons of strong language ("f--k," "s--t," and much more).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) have been married for a long time -- long enough to have two daughters, two careers that are somewhat less than thriving, a big house, and a big mortgage. They've also been together so long that the passion is waning, and they sometimes feel more like roommates than lovers. Judd Apatow's THIS IS 40, which centers on the week that Pete and Debbie are both having that momentous birthday, is all about the issues that midlife couples feel when their marriage seems like a business partnership, and raising kids and managing a household is a second job.
Is it any good?
Apatow is clearly in the driver's seat here, showing cracks in a marriage that feels real while still delivering plenty of laughs. Rudd and Mann have great chemistry, and when they bicker, it feels just like two people who know each other intimately and are truly sick of each other. This alone -- and a glimpse at Apatow and Mann's daughters, who play Pete and Debbie's progeny to perfection -- makes This Is 40 worth the watch.
Just don't expect any earth-shattering epiphanies or any sort of offbeat, unique perspective that would elevate this to comedy masterpiece stature. This Is 40 dots all its i's and crosses its t's: The requisite joke about aging (and fear of declaring your real age), the fights between two sisters -- they're all there. Yet it is possible to make a really funny movie that's insightful, too. (See Steve Martin's canon, or most of it.) This Is 40 just isn't it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how This Is 40 portrays marriage. Does Pete and Debbie's relationship seem realistic? Does it seem healthy? How does it compare to other movie marriages?
Would you say Pete and Debbie are good parents? How do their relationships with their kids compare to their relationships to their own fathers?
Does the fact that This Is 40 is a comedy make the issues it touches on seem less serious? Do raunchy bits make movies like this funnier, or do they go overboard?
How relatable is Pete and Debbie's lifestyle? Does that fact that they're wealthy make their issues less sympathetic?