21 more years, and this is most likely going to be my story. Yay!
This film continues to follow the lives of middle-aged married couple, Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann), as they face the challenges of their lives and also turning forty. They both are dealing with turning forty and each of their jobs and children Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow) also adds stress to their relationship.
Knocked Up is one of, if not, my favorite Judd Apatow movie so-far. It’s not only of the more realistic depictions of a real-life, modern-day relationship between two people and the problems they go through, but also is one of his funnest outings thus far, mainly just because it never stops being hilarious, even when it’s being serious. That’s why I was really looking forward to seeing Pete and Debbie come back to the big-screen, mainly because every scene they had in that movie, they totally stole it away from Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, no matter how hard those two tried to not let it go down that way. Still, even mentioning those two characters from that movie, would probably be selling this flick the wrong way because it is the farthest thing from being romantic. It’s marriage, bitch, and it’s pretty much misery.
If the casting-choices didn’t already make it clear enough to you, this flick seems to be the most autobiographical of Apatow’s whole career and rightfully so, because the topic of marriage and getting older, can be played for laughs but should also be played for all that it is. Maybe I don’t have much room to talk because I am only 19, I am not married (if you don’t want to count that one week in Vegas), and do not have any kids (not that I know of yet), but seeing people that I do know who are married and who are quickly-approaching this mid-life crisis in their lives, I can easily say that I have a general idea of how much it pains certain people, and that’s why this film really stuck with me. Hell, saying the term, “really stuck with me”, in a Judd Apatow movie, of all movies, really surprised the hell out of me and that’s what works so damn well with this flick.
As usual, Apatow’s humor never ceases to amaze me as the guy knows how to write witty-dialogue that teeters on raunchy, but yet, is still hilarious. I found myself laughing a whole bunch with this movie because Apatow knows the stars that he’s writing this material for, and he knows their timing and what fits them the best, that’s why every-line of dialogue that these people shoot out of their mouths, feels perfect and for that, is even funnier. Knowing that this is a Judd Apatow movie, you should come to know that there are a shit-load of pop-culture references that some will get and some won’t, but either way, you’re going to laugh and realize that Apatow is on a roll as a funny man, the guy never stops and always keeps us laughing like a bunch of wild hyenas. I felt bad for some of the people sitting next to me in the theater, because to be honest, I laughed at almost everything and quite loudly, too, whereas they just sat there, moped, and probably got freaked-out by how much I thought was actually in the least bit humorous.
But as funny as Apatow’s movie may be, the drama surprisingly hits, and it’s hard. Since it seems like Apatow, as well as many other members of the cast are going through the exact same dilemma’s that he’s going through, it’s only right that the guy give’s his own two-cents on the way he thinks marriages are, how they play-out, what makes them successful what doesn’t, and ultimately, the trick to raising a family and keeping everybody happy in their own, little nook. Being married to Leslie Mann for almost 15 years now, I would have to say that I trust Apatow’s opinions and views a bit more than any others, and the guy shows that as loving and beautiful it may be to have that love and comfort of your own family and home, it can also be a bit of a bitch.
Back in 2007, Pete and Debbie were happy, a bit wild, a bit fun, but also nagging at each other a lot, too. Now in the year 2012, not much has changed but now they have a lot more on their plate in terms of responsibilities, money, food, services, cars, kids, parents, and ultimately, the future. You can totally tell that Apatow feels that a lot of these subjects/elements are touched-upon when you’re in a marriage and seeing how Debbie and Pete react to the stress of them all, is not only very repetitive and constant, but also realistic.
For instance, whenever Pete and Debbie get into a fight, they always get made at each other, piss and moan around one another, barely talk to each other, but in the end, make-up and enjoy their company while they still can. However, it begins to happen again, and again, and again, and they just continue to go through the same cycle and as annoying as you may think that is, it’s sort of the reality of the situation. Not all problems are going to be fixed, not everything is going to be peachy-keen, not everybody is going to happy all of the freakin’ time, and worst of all, not everything is going to be alright. But it’s not about looking at the dark side of things and letting it get in the way of what could be a whole bunch of sunshine and rainbows with the people you love, but looking at how you can make things better, no matter how shitty or miserable life may be at that exact place, or time.
That idea really touched me because I don’t feel like you have to be married or in a relationship to understand that, you just have to live life and realize that things will get better, if you just trust, trust, and trust the other one your with. This stuck with me and probably will continue to do so, and I think this is why it’s Apatow’s most touching and mature piece of work, because the guy seems like he’s fully beginning to grow-up now and understand the responsibilities that have been thrown onto him. Actually, maybe I wouldn’t say he’s a big grown-up now, but he’s getting there and I think that’s a lot to see and understand, especially when you’re dealing with a subject like marriage, that gets so sensationalized in movies nowadays, when in reality: it sort of sucks.
But no matter how much Apatow may begin to grow-older and wiser when it comes to making movies and making real, honest truths of life, he still has those occasional problems that can only come to a director that has way too much to say, in such a span of time. That may sound like a strange-statement considering that this flick is over 2 hours and 14 minutes long, but trust me, it’s over-stuffed. Apatow touches on so much here and it feels like he had enough material to last him to 2 more sequels of these same characters, but instead, takes the easier-road for himself, and jam-packs it all into one flick where some aspects of the story get fully-realized, and others just sit there and pop-up whenever Apatow pleases.
In a way, I guess that’s sort of going along with what Apatow is trying to get across and how he leaves his final-point, but getting your final-point across by any means necessary, still doesn’t make a flick that I want to spend awhile with, especially when it seems to go onto tangents that last over 5 minutes-longer than it should be. Right now, at this point in-time, I can’t really say what I feel like Apatow should have cut-out, and put more of in, but there was definitely a whole lot of trimming that needed to be done and no matter how much everything on-screen seemed to entertain me, intrigue me, and even make me laugh, I still felt like about 10 to 15 minutes could have been shaved-off and I use those numbers, just so Apatow could have still been left with his usual, 2-hour long comedies that he so rightfully holds close to his heart and trademark. Don’t worry, Judd. I still like you and I still feel like you have the right to keeping up your own reputation as being the only comedic-director left alive, that’s willing to work with 2-hour long scripts. You, and James L. Brooks, but we all know how that guy has turned-out.
Another reason why this movie is so obviously Apatow’s own, autobiographical-take on marriage and growing-up, is because it features his whole-family as leads, with the exception of himself. Paul Rudd takes over, what is essentially the role of Apatow’s life and persona, and to be truly honest, who better? Seriously, if I wanted a movie done about my life, my times, and my mid-life crisis, I would probably want Paul Rudd playing the character of me, regardless of how much he doesn’t look like me. Looks and personas aside, Rudd is still perfect as Pete because the guy is still so hip, still so cool, and yet, still so conflicted from the first movie, that he really never seemed to change, other than the fact that there is more pressure on him to be a daddy and to be the man of the house, aka, the man they can all depend on. This is Rudd’s most dramatic piece of work in quite some time and he handles it with ease, giving us a lot of the goofy, funny-side of his character, but also the more serious-side that keeps to himself whenever anger comes to him, and just begins to build and build up inside of himself, until he just can’t take it anymore and bursts out with rage. It’s a fully-realized character, and a fully-realized performance from Rudd that shows exactly why he is the most likable, leading-man working today. And trust me, you cannot dispute that.
Playing his wife, is Leslie Mann who is absolutely terrific as Debbie, showing that the gal still has some control issues over what she wants done with her husband and her marriage, but at the same time, is still one lovely gal to watch on-screen. Mann is one of the finer, comedic-actresses working today because she knows how to balance-out the crazy-side of her comedic-acting, with her down-to-earth, realistic-aspect of her dramatic-acting, and make it all seem believable. Watching her and Rudd is perfect because they both play-off of each other as husband-and-wife in such a perfect way, for better or worse. When they fight, it feels real. When they make-up and love one another, it feels real. And whenever they just sit-there, don’t talk, and realize that the other is not really happy with what’s going on at that moment, it feels real. I honestly don’t think that anybody else could have played these two characters and as funny and hilarious as Rudd and Mann may be whenever they are together, just clowning-around, they still painfully real and honest, which is why it becomes so clear that these two people, really are, Pete and Debbie.
This idea also extends to the real-life daughters of Mann and Apatow, Maude and Iris, who both play Charlotte and Sadie here, and are still getting better and better as time goes on. It’s crazy to think about it, but they are essentially growing-up, right in front of our own eyes and it’s a beautiful thing to watch, mainly because of these girls are so talented and great at what they do, that it seems more like a wise-decision, rather than a self-righteous one, that Apatow would actually cast his-own kids in a movie, as the children of their own, real-life mother. It’s a bit too surreal, but after awhile, you start to forget about it and realize that talent just runs in the Apatow-genes. I wish I was one.
The whole ensemble works perfectly-well too, and everybody, and I do mean, EVERYBODY, gets their own-chance to shine and make you laugh. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow play the fathers of both Pete and Debbier, respectively, and play them fine with all of their flaws and positives. Brooks’ positives is that he a nice guy and knows the family for all that they are, but his negatives are that he’s a mooch and continues to try and get more money from a family, that really seems to need it more than him, in a way; whereas Lithgow’s negatives are a lot wider, seeing that the guy left Debbie when she was young, really didn’t want much to do with her, and never seems to connect, but later on, we begin to find-out more about that fact and it’s very-touching to see, coming from Lithgow, a guy who really seems to be falling-off the radar as of late. Also, Megan Fox is hilarious here, playing another sexxed-up version of herself, where she is in on the joke, playing everything-up to the point of where you don’t really know if she’s acting or not, and is just perfect with all that she does. I really do hope to see more of her in the future, as well as her body. Hot damn!
Consensus: Though (like the review I just wrote), This is 40 is a bit lengthy and could have been chopped-up at times, but is always funny, always entertaining, and always feels realistic and honest in the way it portrays aging, marriage, and holding a family together, especially in today’s day and age, where it’s harder and a lot more stressful to do.