Perhaps that’s because I am of the age where I can relate. There’s no avoiding growing older, so you may as well laugh, right?
Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann head a very funny cast in this reverse coming of age comedy that is billed as the “sort of” sequel to Apatow’s 2007 “Knocked Up”. This time, we catch up with the supporting characters, Pete and Debbie and their two children, a family who are in the throes of a midlife crisis because the parents are about to turn – you guessed it – 40.
At first there didn’t seem like much of a story unfolding, but rather little slices of a day in the life played for laughs. It could have been called “This is Life”. Midway through, I recognized an actual story forming, and that’s when it took on a more serious tone. This family is dealing with an overly hormonal teenage daughter that is making life pretty miserable for everyone, a failing business, mooching and absentee parents and employee embezzlement all in one week. It’s definitely not a fun day at the beach, but considering their privileged existence in an upper class California neighborhood, it’s not the end of the world either.
Rudd is perfectly cast in the role of an overwhelmed and often frustrated husband and father with a slick sense of humor, his own share of secrets and a heart of gold. He has some of the movie’s best comic moments, especially when he’s poking fun at the television show “Friends”, which he was a part of in its last season. But it’s also the most dramatic performance I’ve ever witnessed from him. There is something so appealing about Rudd, who still possesses the boyish charm he had in 1995s “Clueless”, yet he’s quite believable as the adult father of a teenager.
Mann, who stars in all of Apatow’s films and is his real life wife, also lives up to her role as a mother who’s afraid she’s not doing the best for her children, and as a wife who is worried about losing the magic with her husband. I haven’t enjoyed her performances in other movies she’s been in because I find her characters too abrasive and condescending. She carries less of those traits as Debbie, but they are still there. Somehow it’s more acceptable in this role. Mann is all over the place with her emotions, which seems true to life for many of us that age, but there is also a sweetness about her character that comes through in the end.
The cameo appearances in this movie are plenty; Jason Segel, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow, Melissa McCarthy, Megan Fox, and several others all have small and memorable roles. And let’s not forget several musicians and NHL players that are fun to spot.
So, did the trailer live up to its hype? Not entirely. I did laugh out loud a few times and snicker several more, but I was disappointed I didn’t laugh more; there were far too many serious moments for that. There were also too many crude moments played for comedy, like the scenes with Melissa McCarthy, who I normally find hilarious, but this time it didn’t work for me. Still, it is a relatively enjoyable way to spend two hours and 14 minutes, which may seem long for a comedy.
This one isn’t winning any awards, folks, but you may recognize yourself in some of the characters and get a laugh or two. And who doesn’t need that? Just remember this is a movie with mature themes, and leave the kids at home.