This is Funny

Judd Apatow is known for his silly humor while keeping an undercurrent of real story. This is 40, the sort of sequel to Knocked Up, moves beyond past a novel premise that ends happily ever after. This is 40 is real. And that is where its humor lies.

This-is-40-squaredPaul Rudd and Leslie Mann reprise their supporting roles from the hit Knocked Up and become the focal point of their own story. Pete and Debbie are both turning forty within weeks of each other and each one handles this age milestone in their own way. Debbie handles it the classic woman’s way: working on her body, changing her eating habits, and denying her age. Pete, on the other hand, has less time to deal with this change because, unbeknownst to his wife, Pete’s business is going down the toilet. Pete becomes frustrated trying to deal with business, the changes in his wife, and the hormones of his newly teenaged daughter. Pete and Debbie handle life with truth and humor and as they deal with stealing employees, difficult parents, and raisin g two daughters.

Rudd and Mann are at their best as they matter of fatly discussing the issues of life we all think about. One of the best scenes features the two lying in bed discussing the methods they would use to kill one another. This light hearted situation helps take the stress out of their life situation. These scenes remind us that we need to have more humor and less anger with our significant other. They also show us that successful couples do have problems and there are ways to deal with both successfully, and as we see in the film, unsuccessfully. In fact, this movie is one of Apatow’s most thought provoking film to date.

Many movies suffer in their ending, but the resolution to this film stays within the parameters already set up in the development.leslie-mann-as-debbie-in-this-is-40-2012 Without giving too much away, things work out but they don’t have a fairy tale ending. Making a “Happily Ever After” ending would have ruined the theme and tone of the movie. This movie is about real life not the Hollywood version of it (even though they have over expensive car and Pete has enough money to give his dad $80,000 in two years), and Pete and Debbie’s story echoes the path of everyday people.

Apatow productions always have great supporting cast. Megan Fox does her best work as a slutty sales clerk and Jason Segel is hilarious as Debbie’s personal trainers. Mann and Apatow’s real life daughter show exactly what raising children can be like and add emotional depth to many of the scenes. But, unlike previous Apatow installments, these supporting actors do not make the movie. The main characters are the engaging part of the movie, unlike Knocked Up, which was at its funniest when Seth Rogan was hanging out with his posse. Apatow took two characters he knew we liked and expanded their world into a fantastic story.

With movies like this Apatow proves he can move beyond silly and dirty jokes. He shows heart and depth and does well personifying life for what it is. This is 40 is a must so for anyone in their adult years.

Jeff Should Have Stayed at Home

Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Now on: Blu-ray, DVD

I instantly took a disliking to Jeff, Who Lives at Home. The title character played by Jason Segal is a useless stoner who could be autistic. Whether the writer meant to evoke this or that he is a free spirited dreamer is lost is unclear. Jeff is not cute and charming but overly babied with no sense of reality. His lives his life by signs. Signs that tell him what his fate is and what he should do with his life.

On his mother’s birthday, he sets out to complete a simple task of buying wood glue to fix his mother’s blinds. Jeff cannot manage this simple task. Instead he is sidetracked by a wrong number looking for someone named Kevin. He sees this as a sign, and it leads him to following someone who then corners him, beats him up and steals his money. He continues to follow these flimsy signs thought out the movie bring us to a climax that, while heroic, is not practical. This ultimate event is situational and does not lead to any kind of long term plan for his life.

The movie tries to be whimsical but fails. The subtle and dark humor misses its mark because of its absurdity and mishandling. Segal’s character is neither funny nor charming but is pathetic and/or developmentally delayed (and there is no funny in that).

Even the side story with Susan Sarandon is suppose to be an adventure with love, but is too superficial. The movie doesn’t have the time or the skill to deal with complex relationship of the secret admirer it’s fonder for its own full length movie as long as it’s not written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass. The best part of the movie is the secondary story of Jeff’s brother and sister in law. Ed Helms and Judy Greer are fabulous as a married couple who are dealing with dissolution of their marriage. Greer and Helms get to use their dramatic chops and it shows their range as actors.

The camera work is amateurish. With quick zooms and sloppy cuts, it distracts from the story. The handy came is nauseating, and I would have donated money for the camera man to buy a tri-pod. While the handicam can work with certain movies like the Hunger Games giving it a documentary feel, it has no place in this familial drama.

Attempting to do so much, Jeff, Who Lives At Home fails on every account. It’s looses whimsy to drama and drama to absurdity.