Kinda-sorta spinning off Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s Knocked Up characters, Judd Apatow’s This Is 40 finds the couple approaching the big 4-0 — or, in Mann’s case, the third instance of the big 3-8 — with predictable if well-drawn anxieties. Their dream businesses — her vintage clothing shop, his retro-focused record label — range from marginal success to money pits, their daughters feud constantly and their sex life is dulled by overfamiliarity. (When you’re asking your wife to check out your anal blemishes, the magic is gone.)
Apatow is great, sometimes uncomfortably so, with minor details, like the way Rudd keeps sneaking off to the crapper for some iPad time, or how Mann sneaks the occasional cigarette and hides the evidence from her kids. But the movie is a mess, sprawling and disorganized, with performances too emphatic to exist in such a nebulous world. (Mann is a particular offender.) Considering that the screen family overlaps Apatow’s own by 75 percent — Mann is his real-life wife and her daughters are played by Maude and Iris Apatow — This Is 40 could have been wildly confessional, like a screen version of Louie. Instead, it’s glib and unrevealing, engrossing in moments but frustrating over the long haul.