EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 27, 2013

Apatow offers intimate look at messy side of family life


Dialogue-free scrutiny of Paul and Debbie’s private moments at various points in the film (I won’t provide specifics) offer not only some of Apatow’s best observational work to date, but Rudd and Mann knock their performances out of the park.

As do the director’s daughters, young Iris Apatow and growing-up-fast Maude Apatow, the latter of whom surprised me with a sidesplitting performance as a teenager on the dawn of pubescent confusion, anger and identity exploration. The performance is pitch-perfect.

The supporting ensemble fares well, too. Megan Fox, as a skimpily dressed but surprisingly smart employee of Debbie’s, deserves kudos for rising about her eye candy status unfortunately slapped upon her name via the “Transformers” franchise, proving this year with film’s such as this and “Friends With Kids” that she can, indeed, act.

But the MVPs of the film are easily Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, effortlessly hilarious and tragically underused as Paul and Debbie’s respective fathers. Scenes with the two of them together could be a whole other movie I wouldn’t mind watching.

The film stitches together generational gaps with ease, sketching out this family tree so that by the end of the film, I felt as if I had intruded on some of the more private moments a family could endure.

Here lies the brutal candidness of “This is 40,” with Apatow casting his children and real-life wife within the roles of a family life that seems to very much mirror his own. Or at least suggests his opinions on the matter. Either way, the film has a poignant burst of personal touch that is absent from every other mainstream American comedy this year.

“This is 40” is a product of our times, this generation’s true modern family. From the sour to the sweet, the adorable to the annoying, the film covers all ground.

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