Can’t Wait: Judd Apatow’s ‘This Is 40’


While my other movie series, I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Film School, looks back, I figured I should place at least one foot in the here and now of giddy anticipation.  Therefore, Can’t Wait focuses on upcoming movies I, well, can’t wait to see, along with a few reasons why.

Judd Apatow is currently our preeminent family filmmaker.  If you complain because his movies feature swearing, sex, and drug use, and believe those elements to be signs of immoral storytelling or social decay, you’re a fool.  Those just serve as the comedic set dressing for the stories he tells.  Apatow’s films are about heart, humility, and learning how to better deal with those closest to you.  Perhaps The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a bit of a stretch, conceptually speaking, but its depiction of blossoming friendship and finding “the one” is much sweeter than most of its fans are willing to admit.  Knocked Up‘s central conceit can and does happen to people every day.  All kinds of people, even celebrities, get cancer, and they deal with it nobly and poorly in equal measure; Funny People, while not wholly successful, goes to great lengths to show that range.  Now, in Apatow’s latest directorial effort, This Is 40, he seems to tackle aging, boredom, and attempting to maintain one’s identity while doing what’s best for one’s family.

This Is 40 looks funny, but Apatow seems to have more on his mind than humor.  Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s married characters from Knocked Up must, like everyone, deal with aging, children, and career uncertainty.  At times, they can’t stand each other and want to be anywhere but near one another.  How they rectify those feelings is what I want to see.  New addition Albert Brooks, playing Rudd’s father, is always a joy to watch, whether he’s staging comedic reality shows in Real Life or coldly murdering people as a mobster in Drive.  Hopefully his appearance in this leads to him writing and directing a new film of his own.

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