Film review: This Is 40 (15)

Shaky insight into a see-saw relationship

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The Independent Culture

Judd Apatow built his reputation with comedies about teenagers and arrested adolescents, but with 2009's Funny People and now this, a 133-minute, not particularly funny and apparently autobiographical examination of a married couple's mid-life crisis, it would seem that he is making a bid for artistic respectability.

There's still plenty of swearing and improvised vulgarity, but that isn't the problem. The underwritten script and tonal uncertainty are.

Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) began life as supporting characters in Apatow's earlier, more closely observed comedy of manners, Knocked Up, and their personalities have barely developed since. They frequently behave inappropriately, but instead of funny it is merely inconsistent and confusing.

And the film oscillates crazily between the bracing frankness of scenes such as the one in which they discuss the ways in which they've fantasised killing each other, and the cloying sentimentality of their make-up scenes.

Whether because they were in one of his earlier films, or because they're based on people close to him, or played by his friends and family, Apatow seems to think we know these characters better than we do. But they just don't live or act or talk like us, or any other 40-year-olds we know.