Suspending Disbelief for “This is 40”

I love going to the cinema. Always have, always will. I can tolerate films on the big screen that I wouldn’t bother with at home. Average films are better when you are sitting with crap loads of popcorn in front of a big screen.

We went to the cinema a few times during our travels through South America, however we have managed to go every week here in Colombia. Last week we wanted to see the new Tom Cruise film Oblivion. I saw the trailer for it a few months ago and was really excited about seeing it.

Unfortunately, the film was only on in Spanish in our local cinema. It was showing in a few cinemas in English with Spanish subtitles, however those were further across town (I have seen many films in Spanish, though at my current Spanish level, I don’t understand everything so don’t enjoy the film). To avoid getting caught in rush hour traffic, we decided to go to our local cinema.

There were three films in English: Warm Bodies (released as “My Boyfriend is a Zombie” in Spanish), Silent Hill: Revelation (“Terror On Silent Hill”), and This Is 40. The zombie film was for kids/teens and Silent Hill got some bad reviews, so by default we went to see This Is 40.

It is a continuation of the film Knocked Up, a funny comedy that starred Seth Rogan. I enjoyed that film though he the main stars did not return for this film. We saw the trailer (below) a few times at the cinema. It didn’t look hilarious, but I like Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann as actors, so I didn’t think it would be terrible.

It only came out here last week but it was released in the USA in December, so a lot of you may already have seen it. The film was ok, nothing amazing. There were a few funny parts but the jokes fell flat most of the time. My biggest problem with it was the storyline.

Suspension of Disbelief

In order to enjoy most films, you have to have a suspension of disbelief. This enables you to enjoy a film, even if the general premise of it is bullshit. I don’t have a major problem with that. For example, I have no problem watching the X-Men and Avenger films. They are fantasy films so I can deal with all the fairy tales, silly storylines and overuse of CGI.

Likewise, I went to see Die Hard 5 when I was in Cuenca, Ecuador. My girlfriend thought it looked so bad, that she stayed home and watched TV. I had read some scathing reviews of the film, however I wanted a trip to the cinema and that was the only film on, so I went. I don’t know if it’s because I went to the film expecting it to be terrible, though I enjoyed the film. The cheesy dialogue and the fact that the heroes avoided death by inches every time did not bother me. I still enjoyed it. It has shootouts and explosions; the perfect type of film for the big screen.

Unfortunately, sometimes films have such bullshit storylines, that stop me from suspending my disbelief, and it ruins the film for me.

This is 40 is an example of this. It’s a comedy. It is not an action film, nor a fantasy film. Therefore, there were no explosions, CGI, or anything else you would expect in Summer blockbusters.

I don’t want to ruin the film for you, however one of the central themes throughout the film is that Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) are really struggling for cash. She owns a clothes store that is struggling to get by, not helped by one of her staff stealing cash from her. He owns his own music label, however they are making next to no money. All of their stress and subsequent arguments stem from their money problems.

A married couple with two kids having money difficulties is something I can understand. All of us have had money problems at one point of our lives, so it is easy to relate to a family having money difficulties. Unfortunately, I could not relate to the couple in the film.

Firstly, he drives a top of the range BMW. Throughout the film he is scared about losing his small business, yet he can afford to drive around in a high spec saloon. Here’s an idea for you Pete: Sell Your Fecking Car!!

This is 40 BMW
Looks like Pete’s fallen on hard times.

Near the end of the film, they both come out from a meeting at their kid’s school. They don’t get into his BMW and drive off. No. He gets into his super BMW and she walks over and drives away in her huge Lexus. WTF!!

Before this part of the film, we are informed that they had missed a mortgage payment and he had failed to pay the rent for his office. So they cannot pay the mortgage for their house, but they can afford to be driving around in two top of the range cars?

This is 40 Lexus
Debbie is struggling to get around too.

It’s complete bullcrap. I would have kept my focus on the storyline better if a computer generated monkey attacked him at work with a chocolate machine gun. The whole premise of the film is that they are struggling to make ends meet….yet they are living like kings.

Secondly, let’s look at the house they live in. This photo, courtesy of Hollywood Reporter, shows you the mansion they live in.

This is 40 House
Sorry, you’re going to have to sleep on the sofa bed!

I like that the fact that the director Judd Apatow chose to use the same house that was used in the first film. The problem is, it is impossible to believe that they are struggling for money with the lifestyle they are living. In the film their 13 year old kid had a laptop, iPhone, iPod Touch, and an iPad. So why are they missing house payments? I would have believed the storyline more if they weren’t driving around town like Posh and Becks.

Here are some more photos of the house in the film, as published by HookedOnHouses.

Front of House
Dining Room
Dining Room
Living Room
Back Garden
Swimming Pool

I realise that rich people can have money problems too, however none of it made sense. Her shop never made a lot of money. His record label had one aging rock star. How can they afford what they have in the first place? They are both struggling to get by but someone managed to afford to buy a huge house with a swimming pool, two expensive cars, and have every single Apple product in their home.

It is not like the characters are idiots in the film. They are both intelligent people. Would they really miss mortgage payments for their house and office. I am not suggesting I am the brightest bulb in the box, however I know that I need to always make my mortgage payments, and I would get a loan or start selling things in order to pay my bills.

It is things like this that stop me from enjoying a film. I cannot believe a storyline when everything that is happening in the film contradicts it. It does not take long to work out the plot and ending of 95% of films made in Hollywood, but most of the things happening in films at least support the story. Exceptions can obviously be made for silly films such as Beverly Hills Ninja (Chris Farley as a fat ninja) and Hot Shots!.

I realise most people don’t care about this kind of thing. Unfortunately, it is something that really drives me nuts and stops me from enjoying a film.

This is 40 is an ok film. It’s worth a watch if you enjoyed it’s prequel Knocked Up. Just be prepared to suspend disbelief for 2 hours and 13 minutes.

Kevin

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