The Judd Apatow nepotism-and-cronyism-disguised-as-a-movie avalanche continues with his latest movie This Is 40, the sorta-sequel to Knocked Up, featuring his wife (Leslie Mann), his two daughters, as well as some cast members from previous directorial outings (Jason Segel, Charlene Yi). Also appearing are actors from stuff he's produced (Lena Dunham from Girls, Chris O'Dowd and Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids), all topped off by Paul Rudd, who we can probably safely presume is nothing more than stand-in for Apatow himself.
Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) are neither happily nor unhappily married, they just seem to be coasting by, in the days leading up to their respective 40th birthdays. Her fashion store - complete with Charlene Yi and Megan Fox as assistants - is barely staying afloat, while his niche record label - with equally famous assistants O'Dowd and Dunham - is on the verge of bankruptcy. On top of their money woes, they've also got family issues in the shape of their constantly bickering daughters, as well as Pete's mooching father (Albert Brooks) and Debbie's completely absent one (John Lithgow). How can one couple hope to survive in the face of so many problems? More distressing still, how can one's attention survive in the face of a movie with so many needless characters and plot points?
Much like a joyless marriage that nobody involved knows how to end; This Is 40 is too long, too full of characters you struggle to like and there's too many incidents that shouldn't have happened. While not quite as self-indulgent as Apatow's last outing Funny People, he has been diverging more from comedies with some drama in it (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and more towards dramas with some comedy in it. While this in itself is not such a bad thing, if you're going to assemble such a stellar comedic cast, why waste them on such a downer of a movie like this? There are some great one-liners and a handful of funny scenes (usually involving Melissa McCarthy - stay for the end credits!), but watching a couple slowly realise “It's not you, it's us” as their marriage implodes is nobody's idea of a fun night out.
P.S. This movie should come with a spoiler warning, because it ruins the ending of Lost.