This is 40 ** (R) Judd Apatow and Paul Rudd have impressive resumes in romantic comedy, both individually and together. Apatow’s writing, directing and/or producing has included Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Pineapple Express among a fine body of movie and TV work. Rudd has brought a reliably engaging persona to a slew of leading and supporting roles, including two of the above titles. One other successful collaboration was Knocked Up. This film is essentially a spinoff, with the secondary couple (Rudd and Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann) from that one now featured several years later, as their marriage is being severely stressed on multiple fronts.
Rudd’s record business and Mann’s boutique are foundering; squabbles abound between them and with their two daughters (also Apatow’s real-life family); Rudd is secretly supporting his dad (Albert Brooks), while Mann barely knows hers (John Lithgow). A deft comic touch is required to juggle all these conflict points; alas, no one was apparently up to the task. The result is surprisingly unpleasant and unfunny. Many of the laughs range from familiar to forced, apparently striving for the touch that has worked so often. But context is everything, and there’s just too little to like about the principals, leaving us short on feeling any emotional investment in their fates. The waste of the available talents on both sides of the camera makes this product especially disappointing. (12/21/12)