I love it when movies exceed my expectations of how good they are going to be. That doesn't happen very often, I must say. When I decided to see "This is 40", I knew it would be hysterically funny, as was its predecessor "Knocked Up". It went beyond that and painted a real picture of a marriage, growing older, dealing with kids and aging parents, and just life in general.
Judd Apatow wrote and directed the film which follows Pete and Debbie, two characters we were introduced to in "Knocked Up", and lets us take a look at their lives during the month that they both are turning 40.
While I laughed so hard at times during the film that I cried, I was surprisingly struck by how real and true his depiction of this marriage was. Here were two people dealing with the milestone of turning 40, one preteen going through hormonal changes, an 8 year old who doesn't quite understand, and work and life stresses that just weren't in the plan of how they thought their life would be.
Sometimes the Hollywood mentality of relationships and marriage are so ridiculously skewed towards either 'if you are in love everything is great forever' or that 'no one should ever be married because it sucks'. The portrayal by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann was on point, showing two people who truly love each other, but still have times when they can't stand each other, want to flick each other off, or plan the others demise. Yet on the other side of the coin, they support each other, laugh with each other, enjoy sex together, indulge the other in the denial of turning 40, work together to protect their children and have each other's back when necessary, even if they are fighting. There are things they hide from each other, but also things they share that they would never share with someone else.
We've all been socialized to believe that when we meet someone and fall in love, it will be romantic and grand and just like a fairytale. Movies and television usually reiterate this belief. Nothing will ever go wrong, and love will conquer all. And it's just not true. But I think it messes up our sense of reality when it comes to relationships.
What I loved even more than laughing til it hurt about "This is 40" is that it relayed an important message. That while loving relationships are amazing and wonderful, they aren't always all wine and roses either,they take work, and perseverance, and tender loving care. And yes, there are times you can't wait to rip the others clothes off, and sometimes you hate each other, and other times you need to go to separate corners and just forget for a minute that the other person exists. In the end, they are still your favorite person in the world.
Just because it isn't a fairytale doesn't mean it's not worth it.
Editor's note: Just a bit of trivia, Leslie Mann is Judd Apatow's wife in real life, and their two children played Pete and Debbie's children in the film.