January 06, 2013

This movie contains virtually no plot and the dialogue sounds like granny just called asking if the kids had done anything adorable today. “I’m OK with nightmares,” says his darling daughter (his real-life daughter) to her older sister before adding, “You’re a nightmare every day for me.” Aaaaw, what a witty wittle angel. Oh look, she’s playing the theme song to The Office on her Casio. Oh my Lord in heaven above, she’s using her iPhone to make a monkey face. Dude, everyone loves their kids. That’s why the human race is not extinct. However, what you find cute, the rest of us find nauseating.

Did he not get the memo? The universal rules for conversation are: Don’t talk about your kids, your pets, your job, or the dream you had last night. We know you like those things. We all do. But we abstain from foisting our personal lives on everyone else. Did Judd Apatow not notice that there is more than one “World’s Greatest Grandma” mug for sale? She’s not literally the best grandmother in the entire world, you asshole. Statistically, the odds are that she’s somewhere around the middle. This Is 40 is a “World’s Greatest Family” mug from which no one wants to drink. Stop stabbing me in the eyes with your Pinterest, Hollywood. Gimme a story!

This Is 40 rambles on and on with way too many ad libs and no plot until you feel like a family pet that can understand English. I’d probably like it if I was in the hospital for six weeks and had no visitors. It’s more like watching the box set of a TV show such as Six Feet Under or Parenthood but with a level of intimacy so severe, you feel like you’re a reality-show producer. “I do not want to investigate your anus!” screams Apatow’s real-life wife at her husband as he examines one of his hemorrhoids. I found myself screaming the same thing as we joined the character for her colonoscopy exam and then sat with Paul Rudd as he got a finger up his ass. The writer isn’t telling us a story. He’s mooning us. When his wife says they need more passion, he farts”€”four times! At least when the Wayans Brothers let 14 consecutive farts go in White Chicks they were doing it in public and it was kind of relevant to the plot. Why is Judd Apatow ramming my head up his family’s ass?

The lesson behind this celluloid accident is clear: Don’t get too wrapped up in your own little bubble. I understand how it happens. Fame is a crazy beast that leaves you almost no choice but to sequester yourself in a compound. You want to be honest and write about what you know, but when you don’t interact with humanity, you don’t know anything.

In After America, Mark Steyn implores writers to get out there and experience the real world. He says, “Don’t just write there, do something.” Storytelling is about imparting an experience to those of us who don’t have the time or the resources to experience it ourselves. We always knew good art comes from suffering. This Is 40 proves bad art comes from success.



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