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This is 40 (AF)


Stars: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, John Lithgow, Megan Fox, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Chris O'Dowd, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Albert Brooks, Charlyne Yi

Director: Judd Apatow

Producer-director Judd Apatow, who notably proved his mastery of combining comedy, crudity and credible characterisation with The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, carries on very entertainingly in the same vein with a sort-of sequel to Knocked Up, which shows its key characters (Leslie Mann and Paul Judd) now married and parents and now forced to face up to the realities and rigours of simply being fortysomethings. Although Mann insists she is still 38 and has a birthday cake with that age on it to prove it.

In Knocked Up Rudd and Mann were semi-peripheral characters. Here they take centre screen to considerable comic (and appropriately dramatic when Apatow’s screenplay demands) effect. The dialogue is as dirty as before but never simply for effect. Characters speak in character and very funnily too.

The overall effect is helped, of course, by the fact that Mann (“I’m the only one here who has balls” she states when major family drama hits the fan) and her and Rudd’s teenage daughters are Apatow’s real-life wife and children. Mann is as funny and moving too when necessary while Maude and Iris Apatow play her rambunctious kids to perfection.

Apatow’s ear for teenage dialogue is superb: I imagine many of his best lines come from life (“You’re so mean since your body got weird” complains 8-year-old Iris Apatow during the duo’s many enjoyably true-to-life sisterly spats while 13-year-old Maude Apatow opts for “This is too adult for me. Let’s go out and play” during the climactic confrontation between Mann and Rudd and their respective fathers-in-law, well cast and very well played by Albert Brooks and John Lithgow).

While a rectal examination played for laughs (“I do not want to investigate your anus” snaps Mann when asked to do just that by Mann) upstages Apatow’s gynaecological humour in Knocked Up, This is 40 succeeds in making just enough serious points to justify the formidably filthy language and comic situations.

The leads could not be better, as are Chris O’Dowd as Rudd’s partner, the two fathers-in-law and Jason Segel as himself, playing a personal trainer and, notably, Melissa McCarthy as an angry mother whose hilarious and wonderfully dirty anger-ridden outtakes in the end credits are well worth waiting for.

Verdict: Another ‘A’ for Apatow. It’s not art but it definitely is a helluva lot of fun.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour by deluxe.
134 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Feb 2013