Will that Really be 40?

A list of some of the thoughts that went through my head:

Oh, they are really opening this movie with this awkward sex scene.
Funny how this family is strapped for cash and yet haven’t considered selling their Lexus SUV.  Movie Logic, what can you do? (This thought is addressed in a great article here)
Oh, that song is awesome.
Unfortunately this scene with the principle and the “perfect family” accusation is sociologically correct – or: the fat woman will never win.
But they aren’t going to emotionally mature at all in this movie? Alright then – This is the end.

When I mentioned to Marta that I wanted to see this movie, she said it seemed depressing.  (Or, at least, that’s what I remember her saying.)

On the other hand, I’m still on the shy side of 30 and I imagine that I can imagine being old.  In this case “old” is “forty”.  But, then again I also still wake up this morning without cracking all or any of my joints and barely needing to stretch.  What could I possibly know?

This is 40 is a movie produced by Judd Apatow, famous for Superbad, Bridesmaids, and Knocked Up.  In fact, This is 40  is a loose continuation of the story of Pete and Debbie, who played supporting roles in Knocked Up.  It’s comedy – but in the sense that everyone’s family – amidst their whining, griping, and sighing is comedy.  It was every ridiculous thing that every happened to you in your intimate relationships in the space of two hours.  At the end of the movie I felt that I had lived through more drama than my weeks as a middle schooler at sleep-away camp – and trust me – that bar was set pretty high.

Pete and Debbie are married to one another, have two kids (Maude, 13, and Iris, 8) and are both approaching their 40th birthdays – though Debbie is still trying to pass for 38.  Over the course of a super-compressed week (or two?) we see resolutions to eat better, exercise more, love harder, and parent better.  And then we see the subsequent failure to live up to these expectations of overnight-grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it transformation.  Instead of transformation the seeming lesson is – I’m fine, you’re fine and why try to change what’s sort-of-working?  There are little true attempts as discovering underlying fears of aging, or grappling with the start of the transition to “old age.”


photo via USMagazine

(Also – As most people who have read basic psychology texts know, if you want to change –  small steps are best.)

When I chose to see this movie, I thought it would be about Transitions, our theme this month – I had an idea that at a certain mythical age (Apatow picked 40) there comes a point where you suddenly buckle down and achieve what you always set out to achieve when you were in high school.  Somehow, his characters ended up in their dream jobs – and yet they weren’t happy.  So they set out to change everything all at once. (Were their problems health related? Agression? Money?)   Or perhaps I envisioned a steady realization by Pete and Debbie that they’ve always been transitioning and becoming older.

I oh-so-much hope(d) that there will be an age where you look back and realize that you’ve achieved what you’ve set out to.  Or, where you simply decided that if life is half good, you can simply minimize the leftover annoyances, rather than change your entire life.

In the end, I hope this isn’t what my 40 looks like – I imagine that I will not be yelling quite so much, riding roller-coasters of emotions like a teenager, and I hope not feeling jealous of women who are fifteen years my junior for their pre-pregnancy breasts – or feeling them up. (yikes!).  I suppose because the movie is directed by Judd Apatow these scenes must be included – but I didn’t really enjoy them.

I hope that I will have transitioned to 40 a lot more gracefully.

What do you hope for 40?  Or what have you learned that you can share with this young one?

– Beth Melillo

If you enjoy thinking about age and milestones – You might want to check out some of our posts from last June when we covered Age – Like Marta’s review of The Age of Reason and her thoughts on being 30.


2 responses to “Will that Really be 40?

  1. Getting older is better than being young. You’ve read more and are wiser. Another giant bonus is that you know what you like and can rule out a lot of nonsense. I’m forty-three and can’t wait until I’m 83, Imagine all the books I will have read and all the wisdom I will have gained. I think the problem with these people is they didn’t read enough. Was there a scene in the movie where they were sitting around reading? The title of this movie should be ‘If you don’t have a rich reading life – good luck – you probably won’t progress as a person and you and your worries will be boring and tedious.’


  2. Thanks Mark! (Although, I think that title would be really long for a movie.) And it’s true, most of their worries did seem to be pretty tedious and juvenile. Maybe that was the really sad part – they were turning 40 but acting 20. – Beth

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