Although I have enjoyed the films of Judd Apatow so far, I have never felt he had hit the sweet spot in his storytelling attempts. After creating the unbelievable great TV show Freaks and Geeks, in 2005 he made his debut feature film, The 40 Year Old Virgin. The film really helped make Steve Carell a movie star and the film was damn funny with an amazing who’s who cast of comedic actors. He followed this up with the almost as funny and still pretty damn good Knocked Up, again helping skyrocket someone’s career, this time Seth Rogen’s. Apatow’s next film was a box office bomb, Funny People. Although a pretty good film, it was really marketed as the ‘Next Apatow Comedy” when it was really much more of a drama. The fault did not lie in Apatow’s film necessarily. Which brings us to his fourth and I think greatest film to date, This is 40.
Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) were first introduced to us in the film Knocked Up. Now we get an intimate look into their lives. Happily married with two young daughters, Pete and Debbie go through all those stages married couples go through. Financial troubles, raising your kids, finding time to have sex, trying to make what you love to do into a way to support yourselves, and just living with each other on a daily basis.
This is 40 was a hilarious, but very scary experience for me. The lives of Pete and Debbie were so identifiable with my own life I thought maybe Apatow had been recording me for some time prior to making the movie. Rudd and Mann are absolutely brilliant together and have an undeniable chemistry. But they are also brilliant at depicting how someone around that age feels in their daily lives. There were so many moments in the movie when I practically yelled out “Oh my God, I have done that!” or “Jesus, that is SO true!” It really was like watching a movie about my own life. And a lot of that not only has to do with Apatow’s screenplay which is basically about his real life, but much of the credit also goes to Rudd and Mann and their unique ability to let people identify with their characters and really, to them personally. Paul Rudd in particular has made a whole career out of being the guy everybody loves. If you do not like Paul Rudd in some way you have no heart. And did I mention Rudd and Mann’s on screen daughters are played by Apatow’s own real life daughters? Well they are and guess what? They are phenomenal little actresses. They have such a sense of authenticity without coming across as amateur it really is impressive. Everything about This is 40 gelled perfectly and the cocktail ended up producing Apatow’s best film to date.
The Blu-ray from Universal is really impressive; especially considering it is a comedy. Comedies in general don’t tend to ‘pop’ as much as special effects driven films, but This is 40 looks stupendous. Detail and clarity are off the charts and colors are natural and vibrant. This is 40 is one hell of a great looking movie. And make sure you stick around and check out some of the movies extra features, there are almost as many laughs to be had there as in the film itself.
Available March 22, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.