This is 40: Judd Apatow’s Home Movie Magnum Opus

Dan Geddes
7 min readFeb 6, 2021

Apatow’s characters often talk like TV sitcom characters where a facility with insulting others, especially for any flaws in their physical appearance, is an important character trait, proof of one’s wit and toughness.

Paul Rudd … Pete
Leslie Man … Debbie
Albert Brooks … Larry
John Lithgow … Oliver
Written and directed by Judd Apatow

Review by Dan Geddes

This is 40 is a moderately entertaining Judd Apatow comedy about a married couple facing the difficulties of life as they face their fortieth birthdays.

Peter (Rudd) is a Viagra-taking, cupcake gobbling, indepedent music producer married to Debbie (Mann), a beautiful, funny woman who runs a clothing boutique. While appearances suggest they have everything a contemporary American couple could want (good looks, a beautiful house, two daughters, and an affluent Southern California lifestyle) problems lurk beneath. These characters appeared in Apatow’s hit movie Knocked Up, making This is 40 a “spin-off sequel.”

Peter has been taking Viagra, a revelation which horrifies Debbie, who doesn’t want to admit that they’re aging. Debbie lies to doctors about her age and is worried that she’s losing her looks.

They also have financial issues. Peter’s independent music label is not really making any money. Debbie’s boutique is missing $12,000. Peter’s sixty year old father (Brooks) has been sponging off Peter. The Brooks character is too lazy to look for work or take care of the three young sons he inexplicably fathered after his wife took fertility treatments.

It’s hard to take Peter and Debbie’s problems too seriously; we’re not that worried about them. They don’t really seem too concerned about cutting back on their spending. To break out of their funk, they go on an overnight stay in a beautiful hotel, where they eat a lot of marijuana-laced cookies, order every piece of cake on the room service menu, and smear it on each other while a room service waiter looks at them like they’re weirdos.

Debbie suspects that her sexy boutique employee (Megan Fox) has stolen $12,000 from her. But she’s not that angry or that concerned about it. She calmly goes on a night out with her, where they dance to hip-hop music and flirt with team members from the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team.

Dan Geddes

Editor of The Satirist ( America’s Most Critical Journal; satirist, critic, standup in Amsterdam