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Film Review: This is 40

REVIEWED BY MATTHEW DALLAS
Last updated 14:02 15/02/2013
This is 40
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HEY LOVER: Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann entertain as a neurotic couple trying to keep the spark of their relationship alive.

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REVIEW: It proved to be a magic number for filmmaker Judd Apatow's ageing virgin, but '40' loses its lustre in the guise of married couple Debbie and Pete.

You may remember them from Knocked Up, Debbie, the uptight big sister of Katherine Heigl's character, and Pete, her downtrodden, sarcastic spouse.

You may also recall Knocked Up as the last time Apatow truly brought the funny (and the last time Heigl appeared in anything watchable).

The idiosyncratic film-maker with a penchant for mining humour from honesty, over-indulged in the bloated, misguided but sporadically hilarious Funny People. Unfortunately This is 40 is guilty of many of the same foibles.

The big 4-0 is approaching for both Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) and something has got to give. Both have their hang-ups, secrets and fears that their lives and their love isn't what it should be.

Their two daughters have drained them of energy and independence, romance has given way to farting in bed, and each of their bad habits drives the other crazy.

Refreshingly, the picture doesn't take the usual track of a major bust-up followed by inevitable, emphatic reconnection.

There is no infidelity or, worse, comical misunderstanding that drives a wedge between Pete and Debbie. Their relationship ebbs and flows in a messy tangle of daily frustrations and adoration. Life will never be perfect, but they never seem doomed.

Apatow has a gift for finding comedy in real life human behaviour and This is 40 will have seasoned couples cackling in their seats at those ''you do that!'' observations.

I can't fault the performances of the leads - the often-annoying Mann included - but this middle-aged love story is carrying a lot of flab.

The movie is at least 20 minutes longer than it need be, with too many diversions into half-baked story-threads.

Did we really need to meet all of Pete and Debbie's employees? How about the five-minute medical-check montage - all for the gag of having doctors stick their fingers in uncomfortable places. Yawn.

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