Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann play the Pete and Debbie of “Knocked Up” from five years ago as we get a glimpse of what has happened to them since her sister’s adventure with an unexpected pregnancy in the first movie. Director Judd Aptow (the real life husband of Mann) also cast their two daughters, Maud and Iris, in the roles of Pete and Debbie’s children. The girls do their Dad proud. You kind of get the feeling there are a lot of the Aptow household happenings in this movie.
As the story begins, Pete and Debbie have 40th birthdays in common, and both are neurotic about it, especially Debbie. She has opened a women’s store and is struggling to make it profitable, even after the fact that one of her employees has stolen $12,000. Pete has lost his job at Sony Records and has started his own label, but his emphasis on 70s music and real life singer Graham Parker are not making any money. Pete is trying to hide his cash woes from Debbie.
One of the strong suits of “This Is 40” is its brutal, often graphic depictions of a married couple with absolutely no illusions anymore. The script is often hilarious and doesn’t hold back. Audiences might find a lot of themselves in this movie.
Perhaps the strongest asset of this motion picture is its excellent supporting cast. Albert Brooks steals every scene he’s in as Pete’s Father, who is always broke and constantly getting money from Pete.
John Lithgow plays Debbie’s estranged Dad, a wealthy back surgeon, who has a kind of reunion with his daughter after not seeing her for years.
Perhaps the funniest of the supporting cast is Melissa McCarthy as the Mom of a boy who is Pete and Debbie’s oldest daughter’s teen heart-throb. A misunderstanding finds Pete, Debbie and Mc Carthy at a heated meeting in the school principal’s office that is hysterical and looks mostly ad-libbed. In fact, at the end of “This Is 40,” outtakes from that scene are shown and McCarthy is side-splitting funny.
There are lots of other Hollywood main line actors in this film with very small roles. I think this was considered an “in” project. For audiences, it is an entertaining, very funny and fearless look at marriage when things don’t unfold as planned. Isn’t that the way it always is?