Married with Children
Judd Apatow, Middle Age, and Rich People's Problems
Everybody knows that couple. They're pretty, everybody likes them, and they're fun to hang out with—until they aren't, since they're always fighting. Not screaming, crying, throwing whatever's at hand fighting, but passive-aggressive with just enough tension to make everyone slightly uncomfortable fighting. Spending two hours with them is kind of like watching This Is 40—a film that, in a few ways, feels like Judd Apatow's most personal film yet. It's sort of like Scenes from a Marriage, if Ingmar Bergman wrote great jokes about blowjobs.
Playing Pete and Debbie—their characters from Knocked Up—Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are the world's most attractive bickering couple. While Knocked Up had Pete and Debbie helping out a couple of dumb kids, This Is 40 zooms in on their problems: Debbie insists on insisting she's still 38, Pete needs Viagra, they're constantly annoyed with each other, their businesses are underperforming, their kids are pains in the ass. And their fathers—Debbie's dad is played by John Lithgow, Pete's by the always fantastic Albert Brooks—ladle on even more stress. It's all overstuffed and pretty blurry: This Is 40 isn't so much about its kajillion characters and plot threads as it is about reminding you that life is generally pretty crappy.
Which, weirdly, isn't as identifiable a sentiment as it should be: The fact that Pete and Debbie are incredibly well off (and did I mention how incredibly attractive they are?) can't help but diminish their supposed unhappiness. There's never any doubt that Pete and Debbie will stay together, which means we get hours of Pete and Debbie squabbling, nagging, whining, and pouting... and then they wonder if they should sell their mansion of a house or they blithely hop into their BMWs and Lexuses. This Is 40 is excellently acted and consistently funny, and, as a portrait of what it's like to be rich and (kind of) sad, I don't doubt it's authentic. But whether or not you'll want to spend two hours listening to these two fight is another issue entirely.