This Is 40 Review (Kirk Haviland)

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This Is 40 (2012)

Starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, Melissa McCarthy, Graham Parker, Lena Dunham, Annie Mumolo, Robert Smigel, Charlyne Yi, Lisa Darr with John Lithgow and Albert Brooks

Written and Directed by Judd Apatow

With This is 40, Judd Apatow’s latest directorial effort, we delve back in to the world that he created years ago with “Knocked Up”, this time focusing on the lives of Pete and Debbie instead of Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigel’s Ben and Allison. In fact Rogen and Heigl are completely missing from the entire film this time around. The real question is can Apatow craft a successful follow up to “Knocked Up” by going a completely different direction with it?

Five years after “Knocked Up” introduced us to Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann), we are re-introduced to the couple approaching a milestone in each of their lives in This Is 40. After years of marriage, Pete lives in a house of all females, wife Debbie and their two daughters, eight-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow) and 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow).  As Pete struggles to keep his record label afloat, Debbie is trying to figure out which of her employees is stealing from her clothing store and both are trying to figure out how to cope with turning the big 4 O. We follow the couple through three weeks between Debbie and Pete’s birthdays and bear witness to the trials and tribulations that come out of a couple struggling to reignite and continue their romance well past 40.

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This is 40 is in many ways a mess of a film, but it does enough to get the job done. The script is very biographical in nature, with some flights of fancy thrown in for effect, but sadly comes in around half-hour too long. The story seems a natural and logical progression of the main characters from “Knocked Up”, and it’s the core family sections that work the best. The biggest issue is the decision to completely ignore the fact that Katherine Heigl played Mann’s sister in “Knocked Up”. With Apatow just ignoring the fact that Heigl and Rogen are missing in this follow up, it ends up hanging like a cloud over the entire film. But even without Heigl and Rogen appearing, even ignoring the existence of the previous movie all-together, this movie has major issues. Everything associated with Debbie`s store is superfluous and unrealistic. Debbie and Desi’s (Fox) night on the town, complete with the roster of the Philadelphia Flyers in tow, is quite ridiculous and only there to mirror the very similar scene from Knocked Up. Add in a random “biological” father to showing up in Debbie’s life (thus making sure he is NOT the father of Heigl’s character from the previous film as well) and adding Albert Brooks trying to deliver “the most Jewish performance of all time” as Rudd’s father doesn’t work either.

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Mann and Rudd are good here, and mange to keep the train on the tracks. Megan Fox, Lithgow, Segal and O’Dowd are solid here, even if there characters make little sense in the film’s context. The real issues here are Yi and Brooks. While normally I would be fawning over Brooks in a movie, his performance here looks like Apatow spent the time with Brooks in bewilderment instead of reeling him in, and his performance is almost insufferable because of it. And Yi is pretty terrible here, her act is starting to wear thin and despite serious implications against her character she is never more than a punch line. Apatow’s daughters as the daughters in the film show real chemistry, but since they are sisters and are acting with their real life mom Mann, this should hardly be surprising. That said, when it comes to having to go more dramatic in parts, his eldest Maude shows she is out of her league as she is not convincing in the slightest. Melissa McCarthy, in not much more than a glorified cameo, rips every scene that she is in away from everyone around her as she is one of the funniest parts of the film. In fact make sure to stick around into the credits as there is an outtake sequence of McCarthy’s scene which may be the funniest part of the film.

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While flawed and with multiple issues, This Is 40 is still laugh out loud funny in many parts, and the stuff around the family core is actually pretty solid. Despite its shortcomings This is 40 is still a recommend.

Movie Junkie TO

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The Watch Blu-Ray Review (Kirk Haviland)

The Watch Blu-Ray

Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Will Forte and Billy Crudup

Written by Jared Stern, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen

Directed by Akiva Schaffer

Hitting Blu-Ray and DVD this week from Fox Home Entertainment is the action comedy that disappointed at the box office this summer, The Watch. Hurt due to a truncated advertising campaign and name change to avoid all possible ties with the real life Trayvon Martin incident, The Watch finally gets its chance to be seen on home video. But can the combined comedic chops of Stiller, Vaughn, Hill, Ayoade (director of last year’s brilliant Submarine) and Forte along with director, and one-third of the comedy troop of The Lonely Island, Akiva Schaffer, deliver the comedy of the year?

Evan (Stiller) seems to have it all together. He has a lovely wife (Rosemarie DeWitt), a great house and a steady job as a manager of the local Costco in a sleepy suburb of Glenview, Ohio. One morning Evan arrives for work to find his night security guard has been murdered and the police have him on the list of suspects. Evan decides he must start the Neighbourhood Watch to find the real killer and patrol the streets. Evan is taken up on the offer by Bob (Vaughn), a father of a teenage daughter who desperately craves male bonding time; Franklin (Hill), a high school dropout and reject from the police force who wants to crack some skulls; and the awkward Jamarcus (Ayoade), who simply is looking for a way to fit in. The Watch are ridiculed and not taken seriously by the community at large, especially by the police and Sgt. Bressman (Forte). Eventually they discover that the killer may be extra-terrestrial in origin and they end up in a bigger fight than they had first thought, which may or may not include Evan’s strange new neighbour, Paul (Crudup).

The Watch does not get much more sophisticated with a second viewing and remains a very silly movie. Obviously a believer in free reign and tons of ad-libbing, Shaffer lets his stars run loose and it shows. Shaffer goes as far as to mention in the special features that he only records two ‘script’ takes but gives the cast as many alternate takes as they like to goof on the lines. Stiller and Vaughn deliver exactly what you have seen them do so many times before with Stiller bringing his goofy everyman with a penchant for landing in awkward situations, while Vaughn’s motor-mouth rapid-fire style is in full effect. Jonah Hill gets a little edgier than normal here, but also manages to hit all those familiar “too close” moments that he’s famous for. Hader brings to life another awkward character that doesn’t completely work all the time, his Bressman is one of the weaker parts of the film and in some situations feels shoehorned into parts of the script. The real star here is and remains to be Ayoade. Ayoade manages to steal every scene he is in and during the repeated viewings it’s Ayoade who can be seen adding layers to his performance as hints can be seen throughout the film as to what happens to his character later on.

Going for mainly practical effects work on the aliens in the film, Schaffer does an effective job in the one on one sequences with the man in the suit. Obviously not too schooled in action sequences, the finale involves a lot of CG work which does not quite work as effectively. The most fun of the action set pieces involves a montage with a ball the Watch find and the fun the boys have with it. The film does look good overall and a lot of its ancillary budget after paying off the cast salaries and the suits for the aliens may have gone straight to the huge booming finale.

The disc comes packed with extras including half an hour of deleted/alternate scenes that sadly do not have as much Ayoade as I was hoping for. A gag reel of goofs and flubs, not uncommon for comedies like this, along with some other standard behind the scenes fetaurettes: ‘Watchmakers’ and ‘Alien Invasions and You’. The two additional featurettes that stand out are a reel of Jonah Hill’s riffing and alternate takes as his character was apparently not as weird in the script and comes out on screen not nearly as far out as Jonah went with it during filming. And the ‘Casting the Alien’ segment which is an in-character interview with the film’s alien that is well written and very ‘Spinal Tap’ in feel.

Not the film everyone was hoping for, The Watch hits video more under the radar than would be expected because of its pedigree. Far from a terrible film, The Watch does play better at home than it did in theaters, but in the end its just there. A decent rental option that will not offend, The Watch may be a purchase opportunity at the right price. In the end though, The Watch remains a  mild recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

Make sure to keep up with what’s going on at Entertainment Maven by liking our Facebook page and having updates delivered right to your Facebook News Feed. It’s the only way to stay on top of all of our articles with the newest blockbusters and all the upcoming films, festivals and film related events in Toronto.

Follow me directly on twitter @moviejunkieto and by liking my Facebook page at Movie Junkie TO

Email me at moviejunkieto@gmail.com

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