This is 40, the spin-off sequel to the 2007 film Knocked Up, starts with Debbie (Leslie Mann) waking up and smoking a sneaky cigarette in her bathroom before going to join her husband and children for a happy 40th birthday, saying, “I’m not 40. I’m 38,” followed by her husband, Pete (Paul Rudd), cleaning up the “party” and eating a forbidden cupcake from the sink. This paints a perfect picture, I feel, for the current state of their lives.
After taking their bickering children to a school full of unlikable parents, they go to their respective obligatory workouts (Jason Segel has a major role here as Debbie’s personal trainer), where they discuss how life would be different if they were still single. “If Debbie just died,” says Pete, “I want my wife to die peacefully, but, if I could just be a widower…”
Things like being forced to keep in shape and not eat anything he likes are building resentment for Pete. All of this lies on top of the pressure to keep his struggling record label afloat while still signing and promoting artists that he believes in. This turns him into a man that is sometimes absent and frustrated.
Debbie has pressures of her own, wondering if she is still young and attractive to her husband who is too stressed to notice and to keep her own business afloat. Her clothing store, staffed by Megan Fox (who was surely cast to make 40-year-olds feel 40) and Charlyne Yi who plays an eccentric, funny drug addict (surprise!) is missing $15,000.
Everything that they are dealing with during the beginning of the movie comes to a head at Pete’s 40th birthday party, where Debbie’s estranged father (John Lithgow) comes and explains to his eight- and 15-year-old grandchildren who he is. This is where everything finally collapses, from the missing mortgage payment, to the missing money, the failing record label, and the fact that Debbie is pregnant. As a family that loves each other despite their difficulties, they will come to terms with being real adults and figure things out.
This movie has some brutal fight scenes and the relationship difficulties between Pete and Debbie, who played really likeable, relatable, human characters, can be hard to watch. But, it also has many sweet and loving moments and comic relief (but not as much as you’d expect from a Judd Apatow film). If you are a fan of romantic comedies, you will find plenty to like about this charming movie.
By Ernesto Tomas