Film review: This is 40

MID-LIFE CRISIS: This is 40 is a fatuous, cynical mess with no reason to exist.
MID-LIFE CRISIS: This is 40 is a fatuous, cynical mess with no reason to exist.

THIS IS 40 (R16) (133 min) 

Directed by Judd Apatow.

Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Albert Brooks, John Lithgow.

This is 40 is being flogged off as a ''sort of sequel'' to Knocked Up.

And I guess, under the loosest definition imaginable, you could just about call it that.

Also, the words ''lazy and belated cash-in from a director who had a good idea once but now wouldn't recognise a genuine human story if it bit him on the face'' probably wouldn't all fit on the poster.

Usually at this point of a review I give a brief outline of the story of a film.

Not to give away any surprises, but just enough so that you will have an idea of whether it's the sort of thing that might interest you.

But I can't do that for This is 40, because the film doesn't have a plot.

There are a couple - Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, who played Katherine Heigl's sister and brother in law in Knocked Up, loosely reprising their roles - and they argue.

They argue because they are bored and frustrated by each other.

At the end of the film, they have their first honest conversation, and we gather that because of this, their marriage might have a few years left in it after all.

There's some events that revolve around Mann's non-relationship with her dad, and some pointless diversions regarding the assistant who works in Mann's shop who might have her fingers in the till.

And that's pretty much it for the story department.

The rest of the film plays out like a long and entirely pointless sketch comedy featuring two endlessly self-obsessed, grasping non-entities and their inability to tell the truth to each other.

These are not people, they are tiresome caricatures.

They pootle around in their BMW and their Lexus SUV, crying poverty into their iPhones, negotiating their way up tree-lined boulevards towards some nonsense they call ''work''.

Mann owns a boutique, but only drops in occasionally to chat and have drinks with the assistant she thinks is robbing her.

Rudd owns a record label, for no reason other than to give writer/director Judd Apatow a chance to show off his collection of insufferably hip T-shirts, and dial in a confused cameo from Graham Parker.

And you, and I, are supposed to care about these nobodies.

But how could we? These are not people, and this is not a film.

Written and directed by a man who once made a couple of very good films, and populated by some genuinely likeable comic talents, This is 40 is still nothing but a fatuous, cynical mess with no reason to exist.

Among the scant audience I was with, the biggest laugh came from a shot of Rudd attempting to stare up his own arse with a mirror.

Maybe Apatow intended that scene to serve as a metaphor for his own creative process, but probably not.

The only pleasant surprise in the whole car-crash was, of all people, Megan Fox.

The last time I saw Fox in a film, she looked like a prison camp survivor who had wandered into a game of paintball with out a mask.

Here, having put on a few kilos, and wearing just a film-minimum of make up, she's actually quite watchable. Who knew?

The Dominion Post