- May 9, 2003
This is 40 brings its midlife crisis to Blu-ray – including two versions of the movie and over 2 hours of extended and deleted material. The Blu-ray boasts solid picture and sound, but the movie itself is sadly uninteresting and overlong. If anything, it’s a reflection of how far we have fallen from Judd Apatow’s earlier work on “The Larry Sanders Show” and Knocked Up to see this movie clock in at around 2 hours and 15 minutes with so little happening in it. Unlike earlier Apatow films where there was plenty of comedy to keep people’s interest, the current film simply doesn’t have enough material to warrant any recommendation.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 2 hrs 14 mins (Theatrical Version) 2 hrs 17 mins (Unrated Version)
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy, UltraViolet
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/22/2013
In years to come, people may well look back on This is 40 as the moment when Judd Apatow’s magic touch finally wore off. After a slew of successful comedies from The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up as well as the ones he’s produced, like Superbad and Bridesmaids, Apatow’s most recent directorial efforts have been marked by crushing lengths and a scarcity of interesting material. But Funny People at least had a promising idea in it before it went to pot. With This is 40, the well seems to have run dry. Ostensibly, the movie tells the story of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann), a married couple we previously met in Knocked Up, as they both turn 40 and contemplate where they are in their lives and their relationship. On the surface, that’s a good thematic idea on which to build a comedy, and it’s certainly been done several times. Middle Age Crazy from 1980 comes to mind, as does the more recent attempt, Couple’s Retreat. Whether the idea works depends both on the casting and on whether the story goes anywhere interesting. And the problem with the current movie is that neither idea works out so well. It doesn’t help matters that This is 40 is easily a solid half hour too long to sustain its story. (A friend joked after seeing it that “they left ‘Minutes Too Long’ out of the title!”) It also doesn’t help that there doesn’t seem to be a solid story backbone here. What transpires is more of a series of vignettes that are only vaguely connected. We see that Pete and Debbie each have their own issues, some of which they are hiding from each other. We see that Pete is having eating issues and is struggling with their finances and his needy father (Albert Brooks, giving his usually good performance). We see that Debbie is hiding a smoking habit (which would be impossible, by the way) and is hiding various things from her husband, not to mention her practically dead relationship with her absent father (John Lithgow, looking distinctly uncomfortable here). We see that Pete and Debbie’s little girls (played of course by Apatow and Leslie Mann’s daughters Maude and Iris) also have issues, mostly shown in the form of the older daughter’s interest in the TV series “Lost”. To this is added some intrigue at Debbie’s boutique shop and money problems with Pete’s record label. But none of this material adds up to a cohesive STORY. It’s clear that Judd Apatow was thinking that assembling these various continuing vignettes would add up to a kind of emotional whole, but that simply doesn’t pan out. Instead, all the disparate story threads just lay there. I wish I could say I was exaggerating that I looked at my watch at about an hour in, and I still had no idea what the movie was really about.There are some good performances here, notably Albert Brooks, who pretty much steals all of his scenes. There’s a fun appearance by Rob Smigel as a bicycling buddy of Pete’s, and a brief but funny cameo by radio legend Phil Hendrie. However, a few funny bits scattered here and there are not enough to sustain a movie over two hours long.. The central couple of Pete and Debbie, while attractive and appealing, simply aren’t compelling characters that can enthrall an audience. Beyond that, there simply isn’t anything really interesting happening with them. The problem is accelerated with the amount of screen time given over to the Apatow children. This is not to say that they aren’t cute and amusing children – just that there isn’t anything going on with their characters beyond typical teen and pre-teen angst and petty arguments. The biggest surprise here is that this movie comes from the same Judd Apatow who has previously given us edgy, quirky material, from “Freaks and Geeks” and his great contributions to “The Larry Sanders Show” to movies liked Knocked Up. His career has been built from the same kind of uncomfortable moments of painful comedy that have marked the work of Ricky Gervais and the best segments of SNL. And yet, this movie finds him happily showing scenes with his wife and daughters goofing off on camera. Who would have thought that the same man who wrote some really edgy material for “The Larry Sanders Show” would be devoting several scenes of his movie to his daughter’s interest in an ABC TV show? I suppose that fans of Judd Apatow may want to rent this, but I must warn them that this is a movie that may really test their patience. It may not be the longest shaggy dog story he’s ever told, but it has the least amount of material.This is 40 has been released simultaneously on Blu-ray and standard definition, as of March 22nd. The Blu-ray has everything from the standard DVD, and adds high definition picture and sound, along a lot of additional bonus material and an unrated version of the movie that runs 3 minutes longer. The Blu-ray release includes the DVD release on a second disc within the packaging.
The Production Rating: 1/5
This is 40 is presented in a 1080p AVC 2.40:1 transfer that, as usual for Apatow’s movies, presents fleshtones and the multiple costume fabrics, skin textures and environments quite well. For this movie, Apatow has brought in his latest great cinematographer, Phedon Papamichael (most recently having shot The Descendants) and the shots all look great.
Video Rating: 4/5 3D Rating: NA
This is 40 is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, as well as standard DTS mixes in Spanish and French, and an English DVS track. As with most Apatow Productions’ comedies, most of the emphasis is in the front channels for the dialogue. The occasional music performances by Graham Parker and Ryan Adams add some punch to the mix, but this isn’t a mix that’s about the atmosphere by any means.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The Blu-ray presentation of This is 40 comes packed with materials, as is the norm for Apatow Productions. There’s an extremely generous array of deleted and extended material, as well as a 50 minute making-of piece and a commentary track. The packaging also includes the DVD release so that you can compare the materials for yourself. A digital copy is available online via pocket BLU or via a code included in the packaging.Unrated Version of the Movie – (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This is a cut of the movie that runs about 3 minutes longer than the R-Rated theatrical release version. From what I can tell, there’s nothing critical added. Pressing Play will not bring up this version, or an option to choose. To find this version, you need to access the “EXTRAS” menu. (A similar issue happened on the Funny People Blu-ray.)Commentary with Director Judd Apatow – (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD AND BLU-RAY) (HEARD ON THE THEATRICAL CUT OF THE FILM) This commentary finds Judd Apatow in a more serious and thoughtful mood, discussing what he was thinking when he wrote and directed this movie. He notes right off the bat that he felt this movie needed a different commentary than the usual group commentary with everyone giggling at various things. So this is probably one of the best commentary tracks he’s done – he spends time talking about the cast and how what we seen in the movie relates to the story he was trying to tell about what happens when you turn 40. He takes pains to note that this isn’t a story about his own life, but when it comes up, he’ll instantly mention when a gag in the movie is something that really did happen with him. Of course, he insists that the Viagra joke at the beginning never happened with him…DOCUMENTARIES:The Making of This is 40 (50:05 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This fifty-minute documentary, presented in standard definition, comes in two parts, which can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option. (The reason for this is obvious, of course…) The documentary shows plenty of material of Judd Apatow on the set, including the work done on multiple deleted scenes, particularly a painful one involving the daughters’ vaccinations – which he had done for real on camera. There are multiple instances shown of Apatow shouting dialogue into the set for the cast to repeat, and more than a few shots of the gang at Video Village laughing uproariously at every joke. A bit of time is also spent on the one scene between Paul Rudd and Phil Hendrie, including the stunt work that leads into it.This is Albert Brooks (At Work) (10:58, 480p, Anamorphic) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This standard definition featurette mostly deals with the contribution of Albert Brooks to the movie, with the actor noting that this was his return to comedy after the darkness of his prior movie, Drive. Brooks is shown to agree with the extensive rehearsal and improvisation components of Judd Apatow’s movies. At one point, he makes a pointed comment about the value of completing a movie on time. While noting that it’s always a preferred thing to finish a movie on schedule, Brooks says “nobody ever wrote a review that said ‘he BEAUTIFULLY finished on time.” The last part of this featurette actually covers John Lithgow’s contribution, including some brief interview material with him and some outtakes of a party scene shared by Lithgow and Brooks. Lithgow refers to doing improv work with Albert Brooks as akin to shooting a fight scene with Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger.Graham Parker & The Rumour: A Long, Emotional Ride (17:30, 480p, Anamorphic) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This standard definition featurette covers the contribution of Graham Parker, and discusses the reunion of his band, The Rumour, after decades apart.MUSIC:Graham Parker & The Rumour (20:35 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) (MOSTLY BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This is a standard definition presentation of a reunion performance by Graham Parker & The Rumour. Five songs are performed: “Fool’s Gold”, “Nobody Hurts You”, “Protection”, “Local Girls” and “Long Emotional Ride”. The songs can be watched individually or via a “Play All” option. Most of the songs are exclusive to the Blu-ray, but one song, “Protection”, can also be found on the standard definition DVD.Graham Parker Solo (5:59 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – Two solo song performances by Graham Parker are presented here in standard definition. They are “You Can’t Be Too Strong” and “What Do You Like?”, the latter of which is also used as the menu music on the Blu-ray. The songs can be watched individually or via a “Play All” option.Ryan Adams (9:52 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) (MOSTLY BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – Three song performances by Ryan Adams are included here in standard definition. In order, they are “Shining Through the Dark” (the song seen in his in-movie performance), “Lucky Now” and “Ashes & Fire”. The songs can be watched individually or via a “Play All” option. Two of the songs are exclusive to the Blu-ray – “Shining Through the Dark” can also be found on the standard definition DVD.ADDITIONAL MATERIAL:Deleted Scenes (35:36 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) (MOSTLY BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – Fourteen deleted scenes are presented here in standard definition, with one being presented in two variations. Included here is the vaccination scene discussed at greater length in the Making-of documentary. An alternate ending is also included here. Nine of these scenes are exclusive to the Blu-ray. The other five can also be found on the standard definition DVD. The scenes can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.Extended & Alternate Scenes (18:24 Total, 480p, Anamorphic) – Nearly twenty minutes of extended and alternate scenes (5 in total) are included here in standard definition. Given the length of many of the scenes as they already exist in the finished film, making them even longer as shown here only makes them excruciating. The scenes can be viewed individually or via a “Play All” option.”Gag Reel (3:33 and 4:53, 1080p) (PART TWO IS BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – A gag reel is presented in two parts in high definition. Nearly all of this material is shots of the actors laughing and breaking character. The first part can also be found on the standard definition DVD. The second part is exclusive to the Blu-ray.Line-O-Rama (4:48 and 3:39, 1080p) (PART TWO IS BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – The usual Apatow collection of alternate lines and line readings is assembled here in two parts, in high definition. The first part can also be found on the standard definition DVD. The seond part is exclusive to the Blu-ray.Brooks-O-Rama (2:46, 1080p) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This is a collection of alternate lines and line readings from Albert Brooks, giving an in-depth seminar for the audience on the subject of “How to Nag Your Son”.Biking with Barry (2:43, 1080p) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This is a collection of alternate lines and line readings from the biking scenes with Paul Rudd and Rob Smigel.Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (8:36, 1080p) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – Rob Smigel’s alter-ego, the notorious “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” pays a visit to the set, spending a bunch of time insulting Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd, Megan Fox and John Lithgow. This was probably funny to some people, particularly when Smigel put it out on the internet last December. I cannot count myself as one of them.Kids on the Loose 3 (11:41, 480p, Anamorphic) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – Following up from the escapades seen in the extras sections of the discs for Knocked Up and Funny People, Judd Apatow provides a fresh collection of gag reel material starring his daughters. Proving that we are all too old to be doing this, his elder daughter Maude comments during one of the blown takes: “This is going on ‘Funny or Die’”.Bodies by Jason (1:27, 1080p) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – Here’s a mock commercial for the fitness program pitched by Jason Segel’s character. Typical of his character in these movies (he reprises his role from Knocked Up), the commercial consists of him speaking a pile of sexual innuendo while leering at the camera.Fresh Air Interview of Judd Apatow by Terry Gross, WHYY – (44:00, Audio Interview) (BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVE) – This is a nearly 45 minute radio interview of Judd Apatow on the program “Fresh Air”. Viewers with plasma HDTV’s should be warned that this is an audio interview with a frozen image staying on the screen throughout. If you want to listen to this interview, I recommend activating the function and then turning the television off to avoid image retention. (This assumes that you’re running everything through a receiver, as I would recommend that anyway…)My Scenes – The usual Blu-ray bookmarking feature is available here, allowing the viewer to set their own bookmarks throughout the film.BD-Live - This Blu-ray includes access to Universal’s BD-Live online site, allowing for the viewing of trailers online. pocket BLU – This Blu-ray includes the usual pocket BLU functionality, enabling viewers with appropriate laptop, iPad or smart phone integration to remotely control their Blu-ray player and access some of the bonus content from the separate device. DVD Copy – A second disc is included in the package, holding the standard DVD of the theatrical cut of the movie. It contains the movie presented in standard definition in an anamorphic 2.40:1 picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English, Spanish and French (448 kbps) as well as the English DVS track. The commentary is included, as are the first parts the Gag Reel and the Line-O-Rama. Five of the deleted Scenes are included (totaling 9:39), along with one musical performance each by Graham Parker & The Rumour (“Protection”) and Ryan Adams (“Shining Through the Dark”).Digital Copy – Instructions are included in the packaging for obtaining a digital or Ultraviolet copy of the movie for your your laptop or portable device. Subtitles are available for the film and the special features, in English, Spanish and French. A full chapter menu is available for the film.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
This is 40 is unfortunately not the mature comedy many were hoping would come from Judd Apatow after his last directorial outing, Funny People, came up short. Instead, this is easily his weakest movie. Unlike the last film, this one doesn’t even have a promising idea to hold some of it together. There are a few funny moments scattered here and there with Albert Brooks and Rob Smigel, but that’s not enough to make the 2 hour plus journey worth the time. Fans of Apatow movies may want to rent this, but only with the warning that there are few diamonds to be found here. The Blu-ray package at least provides as complete a look as possible at the making of the film, while also presenting the usually impeccable picture and sound.
Overall Rating: 2/5
Reviewed By: Kevin EK
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