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This is 40 minutes too long, but funny all the same

Paul Peterson

Every once in a while, I like to watch a movie with the humans. It gives me a sense of the movie’s impact on the audience and comedies are good for that. Usually I screen them  by myself, which has its own merit, especially when you live like a wolf and eat without cutlery, or plates. Or hands. But I digress.
I watched This Is 40, the latest comedic offering from the very talented mind of Judd Apatow, the other night and it’s one of the funniest movies I’ve really disliked in a long time.
It’s what an Adam Sandler movie would be if he had an intellect.
Here’s the deal.
Apatow is now part of the Hollywood power brokers. He can get just about anything made because, for the most part, his movies make money. 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids and so on and so forth.
So, he puts together an all-star cast with people like Albert Brooks and Robert Smigel, Melissa McArthy and one of my favorites Chris O’Dowd, who are supporting characters we met in Knocked Up, a charming little comedy that broke the 200 million plateau. Back then, Pete (Rudd) was trying to keep his obsessive control freak wife Debbie(Leslie Mann) out of Katherine Heigl’s hair and delivery room.
Now he’s just trying to survive.
Here’s the deal.
Apatow wrote and directed this. His wife is Leslie Mann the female lead; his daughters play the two children Sadie and Charlotte. I’m pretty sure his gardener plays the gardener and his butcher….well you get the idea.
It reminded me of when an artist would play all the instruments on his album.
Ya that’s great. What’s your point. We get it. You’re scary talented. Mix in a band.
In this case it’s mix in a story.
Our story so far.
Pete is growing his hair, bankrolling his dad’s marriage and trying to sell a Graham Parker record. I love Graham Parker and the Rumor and thought here’s a really interesting side story. I mean Discovering Japan is one of the great Cd’s of 30 years ago and still finds its way onto my playlist so how cool is it to have Parker in a  film?
Not that cool as it turns out.
That story line goes nowhere.
It’s a good backdrop for some gout jokes which are always fresh and the occasional comment on the vagaries of promoting an album, but it’s uneven and mostly an afterthought.
There’s no catharthis, no story arc.
I know it’s a comedy and I laughed a lot. Out loud kind of belly laughs and so did the rest of the audience.
It’s a really funny collection of vignettes, it’s just not really a movie.
The time lines are messed up.
It seems to take place over the course of less than a week but an awful lot happens.
I know you’re not supposed to look too closely but it seems a little messed up to me and the point to going to a movie is to escape reality for a while and if there are these gaps in continuity it’s like a giant sign that says hey, you’re watching a movie.
Everyone fights.
The kids fight with each other – a lot and it’s kind of mean but not really.
I think there’s malevolent intent that gets filtered by the sweet reconciliation we know is coming at the end. maybe.
The adults fight.
Sometimes there seems to be this river of despair running through the marriage until they decide to just not fight anymore and be in love again.
Ok. That seems realistic.
Ok I’m beating them up a little too much and funny is great, it just needs a decent frame to hang itself on and it’s just not here. The film is 2 hours and 15 minutes long.
That’s total self indulgence. Nothing happens.
So lets review.
It’s a movie with a good cast with lots of funny likeable people and some cool story elements and a lot of laugh out loud moments.
The outtake at the end of the movie with Melissa Mcarthy ranting and cursing and going off on the main characters is brilliant and almost worth the price of admission.
Still it’s not a movie.
My brain hurts. Did I like it?
I really did while I was watching it but when I walked out of the cinema and started thinking about it I realized there was nothing there It’s cotton candy. Tasty, but hollow.
A good editor could have saved this but Judd’s ego wouldn’t let one near it. I still recommend it which makes no sense at all but it’s my column, so deal with it.
I’m going to go ask Chuck Norris what I think.
Let’s leave it at this. It’s funny enough to be worth the price of admission.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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