2012 has been a year where the “problems” of the privileged members of American society have been broadcasted in the media.

2012 has been a year where the “problems” of the privileged members of American society have been broadcasted in the media.

The presidential election put a spotlight on class differences, with Republican candidate Mitt Romney struggling to appeal to lower-class voters despite his background as a wealthy businessman.

Last spring, HBO debuted the show “Girls,” a show that was criticized for its lack of diversity and emphasis on the lives of four privileged white girls living in New York. And despite the aesthetic allure of “Mad Men,” it is basically what film critic Keith Uhlich quotes a writer as calling, “Roots for white people.”

And now writer/director Judd Apatow’s latest film “This is 40” joins the canon of films that sympathize with the problems of the elite. It is a film that combines grandiose narcissism with delusional bourgeois mania. But, more tragically, it’s a departure from the comic deftness that Apatow seemed to promise with his first films, “The 40-year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.”

This film picks up a few years after the events of “Knocked Up,” following the lives of the latter film’s sidekicks Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann). Within one week, both Pete and Debbie will both turn 40-year-old, an age that troubles Debbie because of the long slow trod towards “aging” that 40 brings (or so she thinks). While Apatow’s previous film “The 40-Year Old Virgin” mocked the stigma that Western culture places on aging and sexual maturity, this film feels terrified of that dynamic, as if both of these natural occurrences are incompatible.

The opening of the film shows Pete and Debbie having sex in the shower, as he accidentally lets it slip that he took Viagra. She exits the shower and throws a fist, questioning his attraction to her and chastises him for his possible impotence. Have Pete and Debbie been arguing before this scene? The film never tells us, but the rest of the film is an overly long continuation of that argument. She yells, he screams, she cries, and he whimpers.

It’s a mystery that a comedic mastermind like Apatow would think humor is found in middle-class living. If this film is meant as an autobiographical look into Apatow’s parenting and marriage, it fails on that level. People go to the movies to laugh and cry, not to watch home movies.

Rated: R; Running time: 2 hr 14 min


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