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Sunday, 10 March 2013


Judd Apatow is a big name in Hollywood, for his part in producing films like Knocked Up, SuperBad, Anchorman, Bridesmaids and The 40 Year Old Virgin. This is 40, though, is only the fourth film he has actually directed, and I think it's his best.

His films are often dismissed as simply immature, profane, going for easy laughs. That may have been true at times, but Apatow is a more complex film-maker than that. This is 40, although it's always trying to make you laugh, does examine some serious themes, and does this honestly.

Debbie and Pete, the two central characters, were Katherine Heigl's siter and brother-in-law in Knocked Up, so this makes this film a kind of sequel to Apatow's early movie. They are both turning 40 the same week, and the story is based around how they deal with this, their conflicts, denials, the crisis in their relationship, the good times. It is about their md-life crises, and their respective ways of dealing with them.

It is also fundamentally about family. Debbie and Pete's kids (who are actually Judd Apatow's kids in real life) are central to the story. Also, the couple's respective fathers, Pete's scrounging dad and Debbie's estranged father, both make an appearance. So it is quite a traditional film with a message about the importance of family, despite all the swearing and sex references.

In all I really enjoyed this. I thought it was consistently funny, engaging, it had likable characters and, although there was minimal narrative beyond the ups and downs of a marriage in mid-life, I was never anything other than entertained. The jokes come relentlessly, some stronger than others, but there is no let up. Amid all the crises, it never stops being funny.

The film has been described as "dark", but this is true only in parts and the darkness is always relieved by a joke, a wisecrack, something real from the kids. And it really does say something about what it is like to turn forty, the anxieties, fears, panic, what keeps you going. I don't thing I am in the majority with this opinion, but I think that it is Apatow's best film. 

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