Movies are most often targeted to the youth crowd. “This is 40” aims at a different demographic altogether and comes very close to hitting the bullseye.
A follow-up, more than a sequel, to writer/director Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up,” “This is 40” moves supporting characters Pete and Debbie — a highly stressed L.A. couple approaching their 40th birthdays — into the spotlight.
It’s not a movie for children, teens or 20-somethings, but for anyone within sight of 40 who has been married and raised a child, it’s a sharp, hilarious and occasionally poignant comedy.
Paul Rudd plays Pete, the still immature owner of a struggling indie record label. Always funny Leslie Mann — Apatow’s wife — plays his insecure spouse Debbie, who runs an unprofitable clothing boutique.
Keeping things in the family, Mann and Apatow’s real-life daughters, Maude and Iris, play Pete and Debbie’s girls, volcanic 13-year-old Sadie and precocious 8-year-old Iris.
Pete and Debbie love each other, in their own extremely flawed way, but “This is 40” is no feel-good romantic comedy. The characters wrestle with life changes, financial woes, secrets and their own parents and often make questionable choices.
As expected with an Apatow comedy, the film has a slew of pleasantly crude and vulgar moments, though that’s less of a focus than in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.”
Rudd and Mann are perfect foils for each other, each vulnerable, angry and confused in their own ways.
While “Knocked Up” stars Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl are nowhere to be seen, a large and talented supporting cast gets plenty of opportunities to share in the big laughs.
Albert Brooks gets the biggest chunk of time, as Rudd’s unapologetically mooching father, and doesn’t waste it. John Lithgow gets a less showy role as Debbie’s estranged dad, while Jason Segel serves as another bridge from “Knocked Up.”