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'This' is Apatow's home movie

Published January 09. 2013 05:02PM

If you're ever invited to the Apatows, you may want to politely decline.

That's because, based on writer-director Judd Apatow's "This Is 40," filmed in and around his Four Season hotel interior decor-styled Los Angeles area home, you will be subjected to a barrage of rude, lewd and crude invective, diatribes and behavior.

"This Is 40" is an often desperate attempt at comedy. I found the movie mostly insufferable. "This is 40" is Judd Apatow's home movie.

"This Is 40" stars Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann, portraying Debbie, wife of Pete (Paul Rudd). Pete and Debbie are characters Apatow introduced in his movie, "Knocked Up" (2007), which he also wrote and directed.

As that title suggests, Apatow leaves little to the imagination in his take on domestic life more like domestic dysfunctionalism relationships and business associations in these United States.

"This is 40" is akin to group therapy. Let the Apatows do couples counseling. Just don't charge admission. Look at the poster for "This Is 40" and you will see Apatow is pushing crudeness in the public's faces.

The thin plot line of "This Is 40," which has the sense of a home movie but on a Hollywood studio budget, has to do with Pete and Debbie's marriage, suffering from wear and tear; a boutique where Debbie suspects one of her employees (Megan Fox, Charlyne Yi) is stealing money; and the struggling indie record label Pete hopes to revive with a Graham Parker and the Rumor reunion concert and CD.

The movie's run time, at two hours and 14 minutes, which is generally too long for a comedy, is only one of the structural defects with "This Is 40." The other is Apatow's "quip-cut," to coin a cliche, directorial technique, in which scenes shamble to a wrenching conclusion with a presumably funny retort.

Apatow includes Hollywood insider jokes in the dialogue, referencing TV's "Lost" producer J.J. Abrams and movie star George Clooney, although one wonders how pleased the actor will be with his last name becoming a verb for permanent bachelorhood, as in: "You could Clooney it."

Also bearing the brunt of Apatow's jokes besides his family and himself (as Rudd), for that matter, is Graham Parker, for whom this potential career-boost movie role comes off as more of a career-ender.

Mann has a propensity for ending her line readings with an "up" intonation.

Rudd is his usual affable self.

In a small role, Jason Segel is the same puppy-dog character which he usually plays. Albert Brooks and John Lithgow appear in supporting roles with the concentration of actors awaiting the next call from their agents.

Apatow's casting of his and Leslie Mann's daughters, Maude and Iris, as Pete and Debbie's daughters, Sadie and Charlotte, in scenes with ear-burning content, could be considered to border on child abuse.

"Funny People" (2009), the last feature Apatow directed, wasn't very funny. "Knocked Up" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005) were funnier because those movies were actor-dependent, with Seth Rogen, Steve Carell, a co-writer on "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," who each have intriguing nebbish vulnerability. Rudd and Mann simply can't carry "This Is 40."

This is not entirely Mann and Rudd's fault. Apatow doesn't give them much to work with. It's obvious Apatow depended a lot on the actors' improv abilities and chose alternate takes.

Apatow's approach to screenwriting and film-making seems to be that of "Wouldn't it be funny if we did this?" Well, yes, and no. "This Is 40" is Woody Allen without the wood.

Apatow seems intent on turning the phrase "as American as motherhood, Apple Pie and Chevrolet" into "as American as obnoxious people, 'American Pie' and BMWs."

"This Is 40" is "American Pie" for fortysomethings. If that's your taste in movies, as they say in all the best diners: "Enjoy!"

"This Is 40," MPAA Rated R (Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Parent Or Adult Guardian) for sexual content, crude humor, pervasive language and some drug material; Genre: Comedy; Run time: 2 hrs., 14 mins.; Distributed by Universal Pictures.

Credit Readers Anonymous: "This Is 40" has a blooper scene during the final credit roll. Gaffe Squad Note: I detected a boom microphone at the top left of the frame during an early scene in the film.

Box Office, Jan. 4: "Texas Chainsaw 3D" ground to a surprise No. 1 opening, $23 million, with the not-quite-as-violent "Django Unchained," No. 2, $20 million, $106.3 million, two weeks, pushing "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," from No. 1 after three straight weeks to No. 3, $17.5 million, $263.8 million, four weeks;

4. "Les Miserables," $16.1 million, $103.6 million, two weeks; 5. "Parental Guidance," $10.1 million, $52.7 million, two weeks; 6. "Jack Reacher," $9.3 million, $64.8 million, three weeks; 7."This is 40," $8.5 million, $54.4 million, three weeks; 8. "Lincoln," $5.2 million, $143.9 million, nine weeks; 9. "The Guilt Trip," $4.5 million, $31.2 million, three weeks; 10. "Promised Land," $4.3 million, $4.6 million, two weeks

Box Office, Dec. 28: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," No. 1 three weeks in a row, $31.9 million, $221.7 million, keeping "Django Unchained" opening at No. 2, $30.1, weekend; $63.4 million, since Dec. 25 opening, keeping "Les Miserables," opening at No. 3, $27.2 million, weekend, $66.7 million, since Dec. 25 opening; and keeping "Parental Guidance" opening at No. 4, $14.5 million, $29.3 million, since Dec. 25 opening;

5. "Jack Reacher," $14 million, $44.6 million, two weeks; 6."This is 40," $12.5 million, $36.4 million, two weeks; "Lincoln," $7.3 million, $131.8 million, eight weeks; 8. "The Guilt Trip," $6.7 million, $21.1 million, two weeks; 9. "Monsters, Inc. 3D," $6.4 million, $18.5 million, two weeks; 10. "Rise of the Guardians," $4.9 million, $90.2 million, six weeks;

Unreel, Jan. 11

"Gangster Squad," R: A fictional take on the Los Angeles Police Department's attempt to keep East Coast crime bosses out of the city during the 1940s and '50s. Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Giovanni Ribisi star in the action crime drama.

"Haunted House," R: Marlon Wayans stars in the comedy about a couple's haunted dream house.

"Quartet," PG-13: In his feature film directorial debut, Dustin Hoffman directs a comedy-drama starring Maggie Smith, Michael Gambon and Tom Courtney as residents in a home for retired musicians.

"Storage 24," R: A crashed military plane scatters classified documents across London when some people become locked in a storage facility in the science fiction-horror film.

"Struck by Lightning," No rating as of deadline: A young man recounts his life. Chris Colfer and Rebel Wilson star in the comedy-drama.

Read previous movie reviews by Paul Willistein at the Times-News web site, tnonline.. Email Paul Willistein and on Facebook.

One Popcorn Box out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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