This is 40 offers - as its title suggests - a harsh look at the reality of turning the big 4-0 in a dysfunctional (but oddly relatable) family. Writer/director Judd Apatow creates another barrier pushing comedy in the long awaited semi-sequel to his 2007 hit comedy, Knocked Up.
Returning cast members include Paul Rudd, who reprises his role as Pete, Leslie Mann, as Debbie, and Jason Segal as Jason, Debbie’s oversexed fitness trainer. The Apatow girls play Pete and Debbie’s pubescent daughters in the film; Maude, as Sadie, (who proves to be a bit of scene stealer) and Iris who captured our hearts as Charlotte.
This is 40 marks Apatow's fourth feature-length directorial outing and he best describes this deeply honest and warts-and-all meltdown movie as "Falling Down for the family." The all-star cast are joined by new comedy players Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids) as Ronnie, who works at Pete's declining record label; Lena Dunham (Girls) as Cat, Pete’s assistant; an off the charts hilarious appearance by Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) as Catherine, who is one of the foul-mouthed mothers at the kids' school; Megan Fox (Transformers) as Desi, who runs Debbie's clothing boutique; John Lithgow, (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) as Debbie's mostly absentee father, Oliver, and legendary comedian, Albert Brooks (Broadcast News) as Larry, Pete's needy dad.
Sceen Rant caught up with Leslie Mann (LM), Judd Apatow (JA), Albert Brooks (AB), Paul Rudd (PR) and Megan Fox (MF) at Beverly Hills' Four Seasons Hotel, where the movie related discussion kinda went off topic a little…
SR: What was the toughest thing about turning forty and how did you overcome it?
JA: I overcame it by making two movies with the number forty in the title (The 40 Year Old Virgin being the other). I claim that I haven't had a nervous breakdown from turning forty and that it was more thirty, but the evidence of the two movies seems to prove this.
LM: I think he’s lying…
LM: I think every day is different. Some days I feel fine and other days I feel like crying all day. I have lunches with my girlfriends who have just turned forty and some of those lunches we were crying and we were screaming about our husbands saying we want to leave them and run away and at other lunches, we were fine and we love our husbands and we are happy with our lives.
JA: I’m not going to let you go out to lunch anymore.
SR: Anyone else have a theory about handling turning forty?
AB: I have a different secret. When I was very young, I started to make friends with much, much older people. So when I was twenty, my friends were fifty, and I never really went through forty because I would watch them die and I would feel younger. So you make friends with older people and you will always feel young no matter what. On my fortieth birthday I was in a hospice with a 92-year old buddy…
(Everyone including the cast let out an…"ahhhh")
AB: Okay, that's a lie.
SR: How did you feel turning forty Paul?
PR: As a kid my dad would always say, growing older beats the alternative… Although my dad is actually now the alternative.
AB: The alternative being….
PR: Oh he's dead. That just livened everything up, didn't it?
MF: I married my husband who is thirteen years older, so I will always be a trophy wife for him.
SR: Paul, like your character you’re married with kids, can you relate to Pete’s frustration about life?
PR: Oh yeah. Obviously the situations are different but there are certain aspects of marriage, parenthood that seem relatable. We've spent years talking about all of this stuff. We've all gotten together, my wife, Leslie and Judd have all had dinners and we've talked about it. This is going back to Knocked Up too. There many aspects of the character which is very much like me.
SR: This was a very funny movie, I don’t know if you've seen the movie Hitchcock and the whole husband and wife relationship there…
JA: It's very similar. I did watch it with Iris the other night. Iris is ten. We had to cover her eyes during the Ed Gein sequences. Was that a bad piece of parenting? Leslie wasn't home. (Laughs) I tried to show her Psycho. I was like: "I don’t want you to see the bad part, I just want you to get the feel for it." I cover her eyes and she screams: "What are you doing?!"
AB: I have kids too, ages twelve and fourteen and a half, and you try and keep them from going to the actual movies at the theater but then you let them watch the screeners. So we all gathered around and watched Flight… it prompted a discussion of cocaine that I never wanted to have. "What is that dad?" That is what pilots do… it's a pilot type Aspirin. It was pretty graphic. And that wasn't even the flight part!
SR: Judd, how much did you know about a woman’s perspective of turning forty? Did you bounce ideas off one another?
JA: We talked about the movie for years together and that's where the ideas come from and it's a little bit of a coded conversation where we are really debating our own problems with each other, so Leslie can complain about Pete but not about me. So I will say; "Don’t you think we should have a scene where we point out how really controlling Debbie is?" And she'll say: "Yeah, but maybe we should include a bit where Pete admits he’s a dick." And then we go back and forth like that, kind of subtlety talking to each other for a long time. And at the end, it mutates into this other weird thing which is a combo of me and Paul’s worst traits into one ‘monster husband’ that Debbie has to deal with.
LM: I agree, that's how it works. It’s like what I would fantasize about saying to Judd. Like Debbie can say these things to Pete, but Leslie can’t say these things to Judd so it's fun to be able to do that. And also yelling at the school kid’s mother, Melissa McCarthy. I wouldn't ever do that… but that's what I fantasize about doing. So it's fun to have this character to live through.
SR: I enjoyed the references to Lost, is there some inside joke you have with J.J. Abrams?
JA: No, our daughter watched Lost in about six weeks and was crying a lot. We thought are we bad parents for allowing this? But then we're too lazy to keep up with her to know what the next episode is and if it's in appropriate, so we just kind of let it happen and then we realized there was some bad parenting happening. It was out of control and I thought: "I really don’t know what to do here but it does make for a good couple of jokes in the movie." That’s what I usually do when I should make a strong parenting decision. I kind of let it play out to see if a joke results from it. It’s probably not a good idea. But then JJ read the script and came to previews to make sure that he was happy. But he is a geek who has ruined our lives.