In This Is 40, Apatow revisits characters from Knocked Up to explore the reality of married life for a middle-aged couple who have lost that loving feeling. Laughter and tears are weighted heavily in favour of the former with some very funny interludes, including a marijuana-spiked vacation and actor Paul Rudd examining his lower portions in a mirror.
However, the characters’ various emotional crises scream out for resolution well before Apatow decides that he’s had his fill. Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) have raised two beautiful daughters, 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow) and eight-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow), but are now stuck in a rut. Sadie is going through a difficult phase, clashing with her parents about her addiction to her favourite television show. This Is 40 hopes to recapture the sentimental glory of Knocked Up but lightning doesn’t strike twice, although it’s close.