There may be a formula to Judd Apatow’s films, but when something’s not broke, why fix it? While some people didn’t think Funny People lived up to its title, he’s reverted to what worked with The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up in This Is 40.
Calling the film a “semi-sequel” to Knocked Up, there aren’t nearly as many returning characters as you might hope. But those who do come knocking are more than game, and he’s also included some of his new cohorts to come along for the ride this time.
Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd) are a little older, but none the wiser than last time. Opening with the world’s worst birthday present, we find out that it’s Debbie’s 40th birthday. Pete thought it would be nice to spice things up by taking a Viagra but Debbie, of course, is just insulted. Their marriage is as rocky as ever with their two daughters, Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow), going through their own growing pains. Sadie is dealing with teen angst while Charlotte just wants her sister to play with her. Meanwhile, Pete has left Sony to start his own record label so that he can focus on artists he’s actually passionate about, but Debbie just wants him to sign “a hot 15-year-old” so that they can catch up on their mortgage.
Debbie and Pete are also dealing with their own parental issues as Pete has been feeding his father Larry (Albert Brooks) money to support his test tube triplets and Debbie’s father Oliver is aloof and has a new family after he abandoned her and her mother when she was eight. Debbie also spends time with a personal trainer, Jason (Jason Segel returning), and trying to keep her clothing store afloat even though one of her two employees, Desi (Megan Fox) and Jody (Charlyne Yi), seem to have them $12,000 in the red. Subplots also involve both Debbie and Pete separately threatening Sadie’s schoolmate Joseph (Super 8’s Ryan Lee) and his mother (Melissa McCarthy). And things go from bad to worse when Debbie learns that she’s following in the footsteps of the previous film’s title.