‘This is 40’ reflects complications of real marriages

Ipsa Chaudhary

When I first saw previews for the movie Knocked Up, it was impossible not to roll my eyes. It looked like any other cliche movie about a one night stand that results in an unexpected pregnancy. The girl would get pregnant. They would try and work it out because she decided to have the baby. And things would go horribly wrong about an hour into the movie only to be resolved at the end with a loving couple having a beautiful baby they wanted to keep. But after seeing the movie, I grew rather fond of it.

So when I saw the previews for Judd Apatow’s This is 40 whilst flipping through channels at home, I decided I had to see it if for no other reason than to follow up on the lives of Pete and Debbie, the sister and brother-in-law of Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up.

Image used under fair use doctrine
Image used under fair use doctrine

Pete and Debbie are now both turning 40. While struggling through a midlife crisis and rough patch in their marriage, they are also trying to raise their two daughters and keep up with their own fathers, each with his own young family.

While the couple still love each other, their marriage is close to breaking under the weight of financial struggles, intimacy issues and differing styles of parenting. Pete’s record label is fizzling out, Debbie thinks one of her employees is embezzling money from her boutique and Pete’s father is constantly borrowing money from his son. The added stress of dealing with a hormonal teenager, Sadie, and her younger sister, Charlotte, only aggravates the couple and provokes arguments between them.

But the movie is anything but typical. This is 40 pokes fun at Pete and Debbie’s personality flaws in a way that I think most can relate to. She’s demanding and he’s juvenile. She’s cantankerous and he’s tactless. Together it’s no wonder they’re constantly clashing with each other. But director Judd Apatow makes no move to hide the truth in their relationship.

They are difficult to like at first because Pete’s immaturity and Debbie’s criticisms are hard to see past. They are mean and self-centered. But they are kind of like me and everyone else I know in many ways. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann portray the couple struggling to get through each day doing the best they can to its full extent.

The movie is good. Or at least as good as Rudd and Mann are. You notice the flaws in their life as it flashes across the screen. But the imperfections are what make the movie life-like. It’s not always funny and witty, but neither is life.
By Ipsa Chuadhary