The director’s daughters, young Iris Apatow and growing-up-fast Maude Apatow, do, too. The latter surprises with a side-splitting performance as a teenager on the dawn of pubescent confusion, anger, and identity exploration. The performance is pitch-perfect.
Supporting ensemble fare well, too. Megan Fox as a skimpily-dressed but surprisingly smart employee of Debbie’s deserves kudos for rising above the eye-candy status that was unfortunately slapped upon her name via the “Transformers” franchise.
The MVPs of the film easily are Albert Brooks and John Lithgow, effortlessly hilarious and tragically underused as Paul and Debbie’s respective fathers.
The film stitches together generational gaps with ease, sketching out this family tree so that by the end, it feels like intruding on some of the more private moments a family can endure. Here lies the brutal candidness of “This is 40,” with Apatow casting his children and real-life wife within the roles of a family life that seems to very much mirror his own. Anyway, it at least suggests his opinions on the matter.
Either way, the film has a poignant burst of personal touch that is absent from every other mainstream American comedy this year.
“This is 40” is a product of our times; this generation’s true modern family. From the sour to the sweet, the adorable to the annoying, the film covers all ground. It captures how quickly times can change from generation to generation, chronicling the events of a household where taking away the WiFi is a reasonable punishment. Fathers such as Pete stand wide-eyed and exasperated while his children and wife dance to the latest Nicki Minaj jam, yet laugh whenever he puts on something like Alice in Chains.
This film also documents those moments often unseen, and this is where “This is 40” finds its greatest strength: the fights, the secrets, and the thin glue of surviving the everyday that keeps the longevity of family life surviving, as well. “This is 40” is a slice of life, with the audience left wondering where exactly these lives will lead and what other slices will ultimately hold.
Sometimes it just isn’t pretty. But other times, it’s just about as close to beautiful as one could possibly comprehend.