‘This is 40’ offers a glimpse into middle class middle age

This is 40Take a middle-aged couple, throw in two combative daughters, a troubled business, a mooch father and you’ve got Judd Apatow’s This is 40, which is relatable and funny.

Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debby (Leslie Mann) who we met in  Knocked Up are turning 40, and just like they were the first time around, their relationship isn’t the smoothest. The movie sees them go through a tumultuous time (see above) and unlike most movies, it’s more of a window into the life.

While not my favourite Apatow movie, it has its bright spots like painting a realistic image of what people go through while trying to manage a family, careers and life in general. I have a few more years before I fully understand what they’re going through, but certain aspects, like the back-and-forth between Pete and Debby, or their relationships with their parents are stuff people of any age deal with.

There’s a solid supporting cast featuring Albert Brooks, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd and even Megan Fox. The most memorable for me, however, was by Melissa McCarthy as a parent of one of the students at Pete and Debby’s daughter Sadie’s (Maude Apatow) school. Her fiery arguments with Pete, then later with both parents in the Principal’s office were hi-larious. They even made it to the credits, which were made funnier when they showed Mann and Rudd trying to hold in their laughter as she goes on her rant.

I like Leslie Mann, even though she’s in everything Judd Apatow does. She’s funny, but one thing I found this time around is her whining schtick was a bit much, and I don’t see how she’s nominated for a Golden Globe. Her whining was was only outshone by her daughter Maude – I guess it runs in the family?

Overall I found the movie enjoyable and funny, but as mentioned, the constant complaining and whining gets a bit overdone at times. While I knew it wouldn’t be a straight up comedy, I’ll admit it made me stressed out toward the end which I appreciate because it’s always a bonus when a movie, let alone a Judd Apatow movie, hits you like that, but after a while it felt like force fed anxiety from the family’s issues. I give This is 40 a 3/5.

Tina Fey’s Bossypants lacks juice

BossypantsI’m not one for reading gossip magazines or finding out about the dark and dirty secrets of celebrities, but when I started reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants I expected a bit more of an interesting story, from someone of her comedic writing calibre.

What I took from the book were stories that shaped Tina to become the woman she is today. We’re introduced to people like her father and events like when she first started improv comedy. As I read her stories, I wasn’t invested in her stories like I usually am, reading other memoirs.

The one positive takeaway I have is that she has done a lot to succeed in the “man’s world” of comedy and even become a powerhouse in television and movies to some extent.

I realize I probably am not the intended audience for this book (at one point she even called out that a guy wouldn’t likely be reading this), but I still feel that she could have connected more emotionally with the stories. I give Bossypants a 2/5.

If you’ve read the book, and are a fan, do you think I’m way off? What made it click for you?

21 Jump Street: The comedy to beat in 2012

21 Jump StreetFrom the opening scene of 21 Jump Street when Schmidt (Jonah Hill) comes off the school bus dressed like Eminem with “The Real Slim Shady” playing in the background, I started laughing and couldn’t stop.

I never watched the original 21 Jump Street starring Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise, so I wasn’t that interested in seeing the movie, but this adaptation only takes the basic idea of the show so you don’t need to know anything about it.

Schmidt and Jenko (Channing Tatum) went to high school together – one was a nerd, the other a popular jock (you guess which was which). Years later the two found themselves in police academy and the same stereotypes were playing themselves out. Schmidt aced the theory and Jenko the physical. On their own, they were terrible cops, and together they complement each other, but still weren’t that special. After a failed bust, they were sent to an undercover operation on 21 Jump Street and sent to a high school to pose as seniors and investigate a new drug that was making the rounds.

The movie had everything you see in a comedy nowadays, but mixed with a good amount of action and a somewhat interesting storyline. Jonah Hill, much skinner this time around was his regular hilarious self, and Channing Tatum surprisingly did a good job – it was the first movie I’ve seen of his, and given his regular movie choices, it’s probably the only one. I was also happy to see Brie Larson, who played Kate Gregson in the awesome show United States of Tara. She played Hill’s love interest and just as she did with Kate, I genuinely saw her as an 18 year old senior.

If you’re looking for a laugh, I definitely recommend seeing this one. I’d say it’s kind of like Pineapple Express but without as much pot – it even featured a Franco, by the name of Dave Franco, aka James’ younger brother. I give 21 Jump Street a 4/5.

50/50: Odds are you’ll love it

50/50As with any other Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie, I was compelled to check this one out. There’s something about the scripts this guy picks that produce great movies, and 50/50 was no different.

The gist of the film is Gordon-Levitt’s character, Adam, finds out he has a rare form of back cancer and that because of the difficulty of the operation, there’s a 50/50 chance that he’ll survive. Obviously it’s a traumatic experience for him, but thankfully his best friend Kyle, played by Seth Rogen, is there to lighten up the situation. Because of his situation, his relationship with his mother, wonderfully played by Anjelica Houston,  becomes stronger as he opens up to her, and conversely he begins to see the true colours of his girlfriend, Bryce Dallas Howard.

Writer Will Reiser does an excellent job of mixing some serious subject matter with comedy, which lead to a roller coaster of emotions throughout the movie. Of course, since the story is based on Reiser’s own experiences, it came across as very realistic. You could feel Adam’s emotional struggles as he tries to deal with his cancer, his flaky girlfriend, his semi-hysterical mother and even Kyle who, in trying to make him feel better by getting him to use his illness as a way to hook up with girls.

The scenes with his therapist Katherine, played by Anna Kendrick, and the relationship that develops between the two is where I’m mostly torn. As a young therapist she seems way out of her element in dealing with a patient – she has very little experience – and when you add on her acting on her feelings for Adam, she is in no way qualified to work in the profession. I like the chemistry between the two once it gets over the initial awkwardness, but it’s totally unrealistic (though I’ll admit, not improbable).

50/50 will make you laugh, but just as quickly you may find yourself tearing up, so be prepared to deal with an emotional drama with great comedic timing. Gordon-Levitt steals the show once again, and has made it possible for me to give the movie a 5/5.

Our Idiot Brother doesn’t hit you over the head for laughs

Our Idiot Brother

Paul Rudd is usually a hit, and is always a draw for the fiancee, so Our Idiot Brother was a movie we had to check out.

The movie is about Ned (Paul Rudd), a bit of a hippie who has a very honest and optimistic look at life. After some things don’t go his way after an unfortunate sale to a police officer and breakup with his girlfriend, he’s still happy, but left to his own devices with no real marketable skills. While he tries to get back on his feet, he bounces between his three sisters’ places, where his simple but genuinely well meaning ways of helping them deal with their issues end up causing more trouble than good.

If you’re looking for a comedy that has a solid storyline and isn’t one that hits you over the head with jokes, then this is a good choice. His sisters, played by Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks and Emily Mortimer deliver great performances. One is sex-crazed and can’t keep a steady relationship, another is a journalist trying to get ahead in her career at any cost, and finally there’s the housewife who’s neglected by her husband and is essentially lifeless. They’re caught up in the stresses of their unhappiness, and their loved but burden of a brother tramples through their lives, turning each one’s upside down. While they all love each other, they’re very much a dysfunctional family who aren’t open with one another and it’s caused their relationships to suffer. Ned is the “idiot brother” who comes in and fixes it without even knowing what he did, kind of like Forrest Gump in a way.

Our Idiot Brother won’t stick with you like some movies but it’s an enjoyable movie to watch while you stay in on a weekend. I give it a 3/5.

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