A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the soundtrack to Judd Apatow's 2012 comedy This Is 40 explores the same questions about sustaining romantic relationships into middle age that are integral to the film. The content may be beyond the experience of teenagers, but appearances by popular artists such as Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, and The Avett Brothers add to the appeal for young listeners. Most of these pensive songs are clean, but there's one mention of wine ("Shining Through the Dark"), a couple of mild sexual references ("Yes I'm Your Angel," "Shining Through the Dark"), and one song with foul sexual language plus a violent image: Fiona Apple's "Dull Tool" includes the lyrics "You don't f--k when you f--k," and "You're more likely to get cut with a dull tool than a sharp one"; this is clearly the song that earned the album a Parental Advisory.
What's the story?
The soundtrack to Judd Apatow's 2012 comedy film THIS IS 40 digs into many of the same themes that the movie explores, especially the challenge of sustaining romance in a long-term relationship. Some songs take a bleak outlook, whereas others are more light and charming. In the film, actor Paul Rudd founds a new indie label that he hopes will revive the careers of some high-quality '70s and '80s artists; this is also reflected in some of the soundtrack choices. Included on the album are veteran singer/songwriters Paul McCartney, Lindsey Buckingham, Ryan Adams, Graham Parker, and Loudon Wainwright III, plus younger performers such as Norah Jones, the Avett Brothers, Fiona Apple, and Wilco.
Is it any good?
There's enjoyable variety on this soundtrack album: songs of promise and cynicism; artists new and not so new; arrangements that range from quiet acoustic guitar and voice to full band blow-outs. Particularly enjoyable are tracks that combine older and newer artists, such as Lindsey Buckingham with Norah Jones on "Brother and Sister" or Graham Parker with the Punch Brothers on "What Do You Like?" It's also worth mentioning that the one song that could ruffle some parental feathers, Fiona Apple's "Dull Tool," has profound lyrics and powerful, well-produced music -- it's worth much more than its shock value.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the variety of performers on this album. Did you discover any older artists that you like?
How do the songs on the album fit with the plot of the movie?
Fiona Apple's song "Dull Tool" stands out as the most brutal-sounding song on the soundtrack. Why do you think this song is included? What does she mean when she sings "You're more likely to get cut with a dull tool than a sharp one"?
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