Defending Judd Apatow’s midlife crisis

In the first week of its release on Dec. 21, “This Is 40″ has been met with poor box-office sales and middling reviews, with many critics branding Judd Apatow’s latest as sloppy, overlong, self-indulgent claptrap. Both receptions are a shame, since “40” marks not only a continuation of the filmmaker’s creative evolution but also a culmination of what has been most compelling in comedy over the past couple of years. With its unflinching honesty, ruthless candor, and fascination with uneasy truth over pat payoffs, Apatow’s latest feels less like his previous work and more like a 132-minute episode of “Louie.” Sure, the aesthetic is markedly different — “This Is 40″ has the gloss of slick studio product — but the spirit and sensibility are the same: It’s a stark autobiography and uncomfortable confession, where laughter is the casual byproduct of situation and personality (rather than the other way around) and dramatic beats ring painfully true.Continue Reading…

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Defending Judd Apatow’s midlife crisis

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