Category Archives: Megan Fox

Movie Review: This Is 40

Comedies aren’t supposed to be over two hours long. Then again, Judd Apatow is a very ambitious guy. He likes to let his camera run long, and he doesn’t shut it off until he feels like he’s ready to shut it off. “This Is 40,” which clearly comes from a very personal place, at first made me want to check my watch. However, once the credits began to roll, I realized that I wouldn’t have minded if it ran a little longer.

“This is 40″ is a “sort-of sequel” to “Knocked Up.” It would be better labeled as a spinoff, a title which is usually reserved for television. It takes the struggling married couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) and their two daughters Sadie (Maude Apatow) and Charlotte (Iris Apatow) and puts them into their own little world. Pete desperately finds ways to escape. He’s given up on his fantasy baseball league and seems more content sitting on the toilet with his iPad. Debbie, meanwhile, is fed up with feeling under appreciated and keeping everything together on her own. Naturally, this causes some problems.

Yet, despite all their problems, what makes “This Is 40″ unique is that I never doubted for one second that Pete and Debbie weren’t right for each other. “This is 40″ is more about unfortunate speed bumps than the absolute deterioration of a marriage. It takes place on the week that Debbie turns 38 (although everyone treats her like she’s 40) and Pete turns 40. This begins what many in Hollywood would call a midlife crisis.

I never found “This Is 40″ to be a film about people drifting apart. Rather, its about two people who want to be closer together finding ways to get closer together. “This is 40″ is about the modern family struggling to grow and remain close in a very wired world of cell phones and tablets. It’s the same thing that “Modern Family” tries to do, except “This is 40″ doesn’t have Ed O’Neill repeatedly telling us how much he loves his family. I have not reached the age of 40 yet, but I can tell that “This is 40″ comes from a very real place. It has absolutely no problem showing us the bad as well as the good.

While “This Is 40″ is not my favorite Judd Apatow film, it is definitely his most mature, and his most lovely made to date. Yet, maturity does not mean that he eschews vulgarity. It has a hefty load of what I like to call “butt stuff.” One scene that has been frequently discussed is one in which Debbie is forced to look at Pete’s butt because he thinks there’s a problem. It’s a scene that shows both the sparks of a marriage that has faded away and the unconditional love that remains. There is also a less talked about scene where Pete lets one rip. The moment was unscripted. It’s hilarious and it’s a fine example of the loose and spontaneous feeling of the film.

Often, “This Is 40″ feels less like a story and more like life unfolding before our eyes. It is one of the more unconventional mainstream comedies you’ll see nowadays. It refuses to settle for the usual plot beats, and it doesn’t try and immediately ruin happy moments with sad ones. Judd has a great talent for knowing when to be funny and when to be sad at just the right times. It was something he tried to do in “Funny People,” but had much less success with. You can tell that someone has become confident in their comedic abilities when they know that it is okay to go for an extended period of time without a laugh.

Even if SAG didn’t recognize it, “This Is 40″ has one of the best ensembles of the year. Every cast member participates in what I would like to call “confessional acting.” As Pete and Debbie, Mann and Rudd are so convincing as this married couple. Even though I felt that the film was running a little long during the third act, I was surprised to find myself teary eyed (not from boredom) by the end. The extra running time made them into real people, and their performances hit that point out of the park. Also impressive is the oldest Apatow daughter, who has a way with words and emotions at such a young age. And to no one’s surprise, Albert Brooks is perfect as a bitter old Jewish man.

Like every good project Judd has worked on, “This Is 40″ is special because of its great display of empathy. It makes us dislike our characters when they are acting based on their most flawed instincts, and it makes us like them when they overcome and change. By the end of the film, Pete and Debbie don’t necessarily change who they are, but rather they learn to embrace what they have, and what they can become. The greatest thing that can happen to an Apatow character is when they gain a sense of self-awareness.

As the film began, I almost thought I wasn’t watching an Apatow film. He has embraced a quieter, more artistic sense of filmmaking, which I am rather enjoying. The opening felt like a Wes Anderson film, but with less thick-rimmed glasses and Kinks songs. But even as Apatow changes, the best parts of his works doesn’t disappear. Even as Pete and Debbie battle financial troubles and deteriorating health, characters still manage to get into fights about “Lost” and “Mad Men” and talk about how they pee “like a shower head.”

The characters that Judd portrays are getting older and older as his career progresses, yet he luckily hasn’t abandoned his distinct style of humor. While it is called “This Is 40,” you don’t have to be that enjoy to enjoy this film. When you laugh at something as hard as I laughed at parts of “This Is 40,” there is no use in questioning it.  

If this scene doesn’t help “This Is 40″ earn over $100 million, then there is no hope for America anymore.

Movie Review: Friends With Kids

Let’s clear one thing up right now from the trailer of “Friends with Kids”: this is not a rom-com. This is not even a comedy about love. It is more along the lines of a dramedy with some awkward laughs, and a lot of babies ruining things. Man, do children ruin everything.

The main group of friends of “Friends with Kids” like to talk. A lot. About everything. I guess that’s what 30-something Manhattanites are supposed to do. In a fancy restaurant, two couples and two best friends discuss the mundane. Platonic best friends Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt) remark how much they hate the parents around them who bring their kids to a restaurant like this, to which Alex (Chris O’Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) announce that they plan to have a baby. Some brief, yet awkwardly hilarious tension ensues.

Four years later, Alex and Leslie have two kids. The other couple Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) are also knee deep in babies. Ben and Missy weirdly seem to share a brain. Alex and Leslie meanwhile, are two very different personalities. Leslie is more uptight and stern, and Alex is the complete opposite. They fight a lot, but it is always clear that they love each other. As Alex, Chris O’Dowd chews up the scenery and brings humor back to having a foul mouth. He shows off the comedic skill that he could not in his nice guy role in “Bridesmaids.”

At this point, Jason and Julie are still single. They both want children, but without marriage, as they see it tearing as tearing apart the personal well being of their other friends. On impulse, they hatch the plan to have a baby while simply remaining friends. They are both the kind of people who believe they can have it all, so they decide to take part in this social experiment. The real lesson here: never have a baby before doing your research.

Julie gives birth and at first, the arrangement works out as well as they imagined it would. Then, problems arise when they both do what they set out to do: raise a child, and date other people at the same time. Jason gives in to his shallow tendencies and dates the beautiful, but empty Broadway dancer Mary Jane (Megan Fox, who hopefully didn’t call anyone Hitler on set), and Julie dates single father Kurt (Edward Burns), who is so perfect to the point of being an absolute bore.

“Friends with Kids” is an eclectic mix of Woody Allen and Robert Altman: it combines philosophical musings on love and relationships with bountiful overlapping conversations, with a profound love of New York City. The writing is often times sharp and full of wit, and lets the conversations drag on just before their breaking point. Rarely does a movie driven more by talking than plot get made, and rarely does it ever actually work.

Romantic comedies like to ask the question a lot of whether to people can be a couple without being in a relationship. In fact, it happened twice last year (“No Strings Attached,” “Friends with Benefits”). When it comes to romance, there are two rules that Hollywood lives by: true love exists, and if two friends have sex, they will eventually fall in love. “Friends with Kids” falls under the latter rule, but goes further than that. No two friends can raise another human being together without feeling the bond of love. This is why surrogate mothers exist.

Putting an image of Megan Fox in an article is a guarenteed way to increase the amount of hits you get.

But I like “Friends with Kids,” and the fact that it doesn’t just fall under the rules, but asks questions about why they mean, and why they are even there in the first place. This is not a movie where big events happen, but rather the story unfolds in walks through Central Park, dinner parties, and ski trips.

The dialogue has a very rapid fire that can be hard to keep up with. This is why I assume that five of the six deft actors in the cast are best known for work on television. Scott, usually a great supporting actor, steps up to the plate in his first true leading role. He takes his kind, nerdy role in “Parks and Rec” and the alpha male cockiness of his role in “Step Brothers,” and uses it all for Jason. He sells his ending speech with the genuine emotional breakdown that comes along with it. Scott is one of the best actors out there today; this guy never phones it in.

A few big problems that “Friends with Kids” has is that sometimes, it does reach the breaking point on conversations. The whole movie seems to be an experiment about a social experiment but sometimes, it does drag on a little too long. There is something of an underutilization of the actors, which ultimately leads to trouble with the story itself. For example, Hamm and Wiig are gone for a majority of the movie and when they come back, their marriage is inexplicably in shambles. And why does a character rendered as meaningless as Hamm’s Ben, get the honor of giving the speech that proves to be the turning point of the movie? Someone should have watched Don Draper’s Guide to Picking Up Women.

Westfeldt provides a look on love, marriage, and family that is funny, entertaining, and most importantly, honest. The honesty part is hard to come by nowadays. It is hard to get me to see a romantic comedy, and I’ll admit that what made me want to see “Friends with Kids” most was the cast. The ending is just about what you would expect it to be, but how it gets there is much more important. This is a comedy about the reality of romance, not the movie version of it.