'This Is 40': How Much Do Critics Love Judd Apatow's Latest Work of Art?

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'This Is 40' Talk
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Critics have been fairly split on Judd Apatow’s latest comedic life-lesson, This is 40, torn between appreciating the comedy for its patented Apatow relatability while condemning the film as a somewhat plot-less collection of half-jokey arguments.

Apatow’s film feels like a cross-section of experiences pulled directly from his own home, fitting for a husband and father looking back on that very same period of his life.

Christy Lemire, The Huffington Post

“As writer and director, Apatow seems more interested in finding tough nuggets of truth than easy laughs. You can see a bit more clearly what he was aiming for with the ambitious failure of the serious, self-indulgent Funny People from 2009. Much of the banter between longtime Los Angeles marrieds Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) can be very funny, but frequently it's raw and painful as they have the kind of conversations about kids, finances and sex that might make many people in the audience feel an uncomfortable shiver of familiarity.”

Mary Pols, Time

“What [Apatow] isn’t able to do, presumably because it’s just too personal, is step outside the allure of this narrative and see what is inherently silly about Pete and Debbie’s ‘crisis’ and how it drags down the narrative. As the movie goes on, the laughs are fewer and farther between, and for the last 30 minutes, not only did I not laugh, I wanted it to end so I could get back to my own boring but less precious life. The movie lacks any urgency—there’s no way Pete and Debbie will ever break up. They fret about not liking other, but there’s never any question that they do; they just like bickering nearly as much as they like each other. We never see a real fight, an ugly, knock-down, drag out marital blow-up. We see artificial, snappy battles that might call to mind the screwball comedies of the ’30s and ’40s, if they weren’t so resolutely cute in a 21st century, self-absorbed kind of way.”

Noel Murray, The AV Club

“Ever since Judd Apatow made his debut as a writer-director in 2005 with The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the knock against his films has been that their more inspired moments are undercut by the overall bloat. Apatow has a reputation for being too in love with his own creations to force them into the shape of a proper movie, with a story that develops at the pace most screen comedies do. This Is 40 is unlikely to change the minds of Apatow’s critics. It’s 134 minutes long, and substitutes loosely related situations for plot. But a few broadly comic moments aside, This Is 40 also captures the rhythms and concerns of real life in ways that slicker Hollywood comedies don’t.”

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

“It's an attempt at a more bruising brand of comedy than he has tried in the past, and clearly this is personal territory. The marriage on view has seen one too many sarcastic arguments, one too many resentments, one too many cold stares where the ‘I'm sorry’ should go instead. But much of the script feels oddly dishonest and dodgy, at least to me; each time one of the Mann/Rudd verbal smack-downs takes over, Apatow has a habit of cutting away at the messy escalation points. Funny People started out similarly well and bravely, before settling for less and less.”

Owen Gielberman, Entertainment Weekly

“That said, a lot of the best gags in This Is 40 are the ones that percolate between the lines…This Is 40 isn't always hilarious, but it's ticklishly honest and droll about all the things being a parent can do to a relationship. And why it's still worth it.”

What did you think of This Is 40? Watch Celebuzz' interview with stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, and then let us know how much you liked the movie -- or didn't -- in the comments below!

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