This is 40 sees Judd Apatow 'back on the laugh track'

Apatow's laugh-out-loud comedy about a couple facing middle age is his most personal film yet

LAST UPDATED AT 07:39 ON Fri 15 Feb 2013

What you need to know
American writer-director Judd Apatow's new comedy This is 40 opens in UK cinemas today. The film is a sequel to Apatow's hit comedy Knocked Up.

This is 40 stars Paul Rudd as Pete and Leslie Mann as Debbie, a married couple with children, struggling with turning 40 and the demands of family life and work.

Megan Fox appears as Debbie's employee and Albert Brooks as Pete's father. Irish comedian Chris O'Dowd is Pete's friend who never grew up.

What the critics like
There's a "new maturity and surprising level of empathy and insight" in Apatow's new film says Betsy Sharkey in the Los Angeles Times. This is 40 has much to say on family dynamics and a couple's wavering love. It's good to see one of this generation's most influential comic minds "back on the laugh track".

This film's refusal to satirise it's characters is a mark of its generosity and integrity, says A. O. Scott in the New York Times. You are brought into a state of intimacy and complicity with the characters and led to accept their imperfections. "This is life."

Apatow has made his most personal film yet, without forgetting to make us laugh, says David Hughes in Empire. "This is 40 has enough laugh-out-loud moments to make it an early contender for comedy of the year."

What they don't like
Apatow's Knocked Up sequel is undermined by characters who are cushioned from life's realities and hard to have sympathy for, says Henry Barnes in The Guardian. Crucially, there's little to laugh at in the laboured sit-com staples.

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.

Read next

FILM: Time for Bruce Willis to hand in his gun?