Apatow Gets Personal, Whiny in This is 40

Critics split on honest, bruising marriage comedy
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 21, 2012 8:32 AM CST

Judd Apatow is back with This is 40, a sort-of sequel to Knocked Up in that it stars supporting characters Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann). It's also clearly about Apatow's life—Mann is his real-life wife, and his kids are cast as the couple's kids. Critics are divided on whether or not that's a good thing. Here's what they're saying:

  • Apatow's keen grasp of character makes the movie "potently, painfully funny, even when it's gross. What other film would dare suggest rectal monitoring as a form of closeness?" writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. "Rudd and Mann are a joy to watch."

  • "More like This is Whiny" quips Michael Phillips at the Chicago Tribune. While Apatow is clearly improving at his craft, the script "feels oddly dishonest and dodgy," settling for "easy, and sort of lazy" jokes, and cutting away before anything gets really messy. "Apatow can do better. And has. And will."
  • "You feel like you're being forced to watch someone else's home movies at times," complains Ty Burr of the Boston Globe. It's "fairly plot-free," instead presenting, "a parade of White People's Problems." Married people may "walk away wondering why we're paying for something we can get at home for free."
  • "This is 40 is an intensely, at times embarrassingly, personal film," writes AO Scott of the New York Times. "It snuggles up next to you, breathes in your face, dribbles crumbs on your shirt and laughs at its own jokes." Its characters are hard to like, yet crave affirmation of their goodness. "They are good, or at least good enough. So is this movie."
(Read more entertainment stories.)

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