Sam Strange Remembers: THIS IS 40

What if this is as good as it gets? Part 2?

A long time ago, I made a movie called Knocked Up about a fat, foul-mouthed loser who accidentally gets a mean financially-successful lady pregnant and how the two inexplicably decide to hook up and have a baby together.

Contrasting that story, and illustrating a possible future for the couple, I added a subplot involving the girl's sister, Debbie, and her tumultuous domestic life. Debbie is played by my real wife, Leslie Mann, you might recognize her from her work as Zelda in Pet Sematary. The two kids in the film were played by our two beautiful, real life children, Iris Mann and Lena Dunham. Keeping with the casting theme, the role of me is played by my real life stand-in Rudd Apatow.

I liked working with my family so much, I ended up filming way more of these scenes than I needed. Enough, it turned out, to have an entirely new film. And not just a new film, but a really long new film. Two films, really. Normally you put this shit on a DVD, but that kind of thinking lacks a certain amount of self-importance, which I find unfavorable.

Normally, at this point I start going into a film's story, but This is 40 doesn't have a story. It has sketches. I'm not even sure they're in order.

Sketch #1: Rudd Apatow and Debbie are having sex in the shower to celebrate her fortieth birthday, which she lies about to others. Rudd used a viagra to make his wiener more exciting, but instead of getting excited, she takes it personally and freaks out.

Sketch #2: Rudd likes to go biking, dressed head to toe in asshole gear. In Knocked Up, the guys were secretly cooler than the ladies. This movie doesn't have that problem.

Sketch #3: Rudd has just started a record company to help rebound from the failure of his rotary telephone company. His first step was to buy a $30,000 Hard Rock Cafe sign for his office, followed by a $40,000 Planet Hollywood sign. He also hired Michael Winslow as the office jester.

His second step was to get an office. His third step was to hire shitty workers who don't do anything but make fun of him for entering the CD business in 2007. His fourth step was to sign Alan Parsons. But no one likes Alan Parsons just by himself, so his fifth step was to spend $12,000 flying in The Project. The reunited Alan Parsons Project gets good reviews and only sells 60 records. Rudd thinks he's a failure, even after David Geffen calls him to congratulate such high numbers.

Sketch #4: Rudd is addicted to cupcakes. I repeat: Rudd Apatow is addicted to cupcakes.

Sketch #5: Rudd has no money, so he has to stop using his special non-balding creme made from Rhinoceros testicles and flown in directly from Africa. This does not lead to sudden baldness. Twas a scam!

Sketch #6: Debbie is addicted to cigarettes. She knows she's not supposed to smoke them, but uses blowjobs to buy smoke breaks. During one blowjob, the kids walk in on them. The parents are embarrassed at first, but the kids are so worldly and foul-mouthed that it doesn't even phase them.

Sketch #7: Debbie has a Claire's franchise. She doesn't ever actually work there. Instead she has hired two very opposite ladies to run the store ten hours a day seven days a week. It takes her two years to realize one of them has been stealing thousands of dollars from her, which is only like tens and twenties to her, but it's the principle of the thing.

The ugly one says the pretty one did it. To investigate, Debbie takes the pretty one out to a big party where they both flirty with hockey players and get wasted, which is exactly how they got O.J. to confess. At the end of the night, Debbie asks the pretty girl if she's been stealing the money. She says 'no'. Sure enough, it was the ugly one.

Sketch #8: This film does not like ugly people. For instance, a kid at their older daughter's school named Tom Petty gives their daughter shit over Facebook about how ugly she is.

The mom tracks down the little boy and screams at him for being a dick and calls him ugly back. When he says something about her going through menopause, she lifts up her shirt and sprays him with breast milk --

Sub-Sketch #1: Debbie is pregnant

-- and then shoves the kids head into her chest until he runs away crying. Later Rudd Apatow is confronted by the boy's mother. He starts yelling back and hits her in the face with his dick (viagra). When all three parents go before the principal to resolve their conflict, the Debbie and Rudd act nice and innocent, while the boy's mother (who is overweight and reeks of lesbian overtones) goes on a tirade that makes her look psychotic. She is arrested and Tom Petty gets expelled. Evil is vanquished, and all is right with the world. (But it's kind of sad, too, because immediately following this victorious united front, we see Debbie and Rudd taking separate private jets home.)

Sketch #10: Occasionally Debbie and Rudd get along. One day they take a private jet to Tuscany and eat pot brownies. Then they return to a life they hate and the real movie can continue.

Sketch #11: Rudd's father is a piece of shit who has been mooching money off Debbie and Rudd for years. So far Rudd has given him $80,000 and two hand-me-down BMWs. He has triplets and hates them all. If he weren't played by Albert Brooks it's be easier to see how worthless he is. But coming from Albert Brooks, it looks more like a nice guy with a personality quirk one must ignore to find the great man hiding inside.

Sketch #12: Debbie sees her dad for the first time in fifteen years. He has another family, too, and doesn't really care much about Debbie's life. Eventually he bonds with everyone by watching the last episode of Lost --

Sub-Sketch #2: The film takes place in 2007.

-- If he weren't played by John Lithgow, it'd be easier to see how worthless he still is even after the pseudo-bonding Lost stuff. But coming from John Lithgow, it looks more like a nice guy with a personality quirk one must ignore to find the great man hiding inside.

Sketch #13: Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day fame shows up and curses a lot.

Sketch #14: Debbie touches her pretty coworker's breasts, then complains about how her children ruined hers. Then we see hers. They are perfect.

Sketch #15: One day while Rudd Apatow is out of town, Debbie has Adam Sandler over and he goes down on her.

Sketch #16: Rudd talks about how much he wishes Debbie would die.

Sketch #17: Rudd and Debbie have a fight over money problems.

Sketch #18: Rudd and Debbie have a fight over his lack of desire for her.

Sketch #19: Rudd and Debbie have a fight with their children because they don't act like a family now that everyone has their own iPads.

Sketch #20: Rudd and Debbie have a fight about how much Rudd poops.

Sketch# 21: Debbies sister has a baby, and she gets chewed out by Seth Rogan.

Sketch #22: Debbie's personal trailer is played by Jason Segel. He is a twin brother to Jason Segel's character from Knocked Up. This Segel, just like the last Segel, fancies himself a ladies man even though he looks like Jason Segel.

Sketch #23: Debbie finds out that the Segel brothers are actually triplets, and the third one works as an assassin. She talks to him with half her boobs out, wishing out loud that someone would kill her husband.

Sketch #24: Rudd Apatow purchases a handgun. It costs $12,000. The guy at the pawn shop laughs for about two hours.

Sketch #25: At the last minute, Debbie and Rudd call of their plans to murder each other. When you get right down to it, they still love each other. They decide to go on a date together.

Sketch #26: Upon turning their ignition, Debbie and Rudd's private jet explodes and they both die in an ocean of fiery carnage. The two little kids did it. They movie in with Albert Brooks.

Sketch #27: Albert Brooks can't pay his bills. Everyone must sleep on the street. Lots of prostitution.

Sketch #28: Rudd and Debbie come back from the dead to celebrate their fortieth birthdays. Everyone has a real heart to heart with each other and all is well.

Now, enjoy some wonderful outtakes as the credits roll! Life is beautiful!

(three stars)