This Is 40

(R) ★★★☆☆

In the latest film from Judd Apatow, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) reprise their roles from Knocked Up. They’ve reached age 40; there are money problems; Pete’s label is on the verge of insolvency; their sex life has cooled; Debbie becomes pregnant again. Rudd and Mann are incredibly skilled comedic actors, and there’s a lot to like here, with Albert Brooks and John Lithgow supporting to boot. But Apatow hesitates going deep enough, starting out well and bravely, and then settling for less.

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The first months of the year are known as the “dump months” in Hollywood. It’s a bleak stretch for cinephiles, traditionally packed with movies that studios dislike, and want to release with little fanfare. In the Hollywood ecosystem, the dump months serve an important purpose; not only is winter often a low point for movie revenue, regardless of content (the top-grossing film of January generally earns half of the haul brought in by December’s top grosser), but padding theaters with celluloid sacrifices allows for all-important Oscar coverage to dominate the news cycle.

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