(director/writer: Judd Apatow; cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael; editors: Brent White/Jay Deuby; music: Jon Brion; cast: Paul Rudd (Pete), Leslie Mann (Debbie), John Lithgow (Oliver), Megan Fox (Desi), Maude Apatow (Sadie), Iris Apatow (Charlotte), Chris O’Dowd (Ronnie), Jason Segel (Jason), Albert Brooks (Larry), Charlyne Yi (Jodi), Melissa McCarthy (Catherine), Graham Parker (Himself), Ryan Lee (Joseph); Runtime: 134; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Judd Apatow/Barry Mendel/Clayton Townsend; Universal; 2012)

Replete with Apatow’s signature comedy such as fart jokes, a barrage of foul-mouthed chatter, gross-out material, absurd rants and many awkward moments when trying for some tenderness.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Judd Apatow (”Knocked Up“/”Funny People“/”The 40-Year-Old Virgin“)directs this mainstream modern-day sitcom set in an affluent Hollywood community. It’s a follow-up to the hit “Knocked Up” (2009), that re-teams the same supporting stars. The ribald comedy about a midlife crisis, that features Apatow’s real wife, real two daughters and Paul Rudd as his alter ego. Replete with Apatow’s signature comedy such as fart jokes, a barrage of foul-mouthed chatter, gross-out material, absurd rants and many awkward moments when trying for some tenderness. The battling New Age couple, Debbie (Leslie Mann) and Pete (Paul Rudd), find life is getting more difficult at 40, as they freak-out about celebrating their upcoming birthdays. In a three-week period we witness their joys and frustrations of trying to make their happy but sometimes bumpy marriage work, as they worry about turning 40 and about such things as hubby’s usage of Viagra and lack of passion in sex, controlling their rebellious acerbic Facebook-bewitched 13-year-old daughter Sadie (Maude Apatow) and reprimanding their feisty cussing 8-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow), his coming to terms with his free-loading moocher Jewish dad Larry (Albert Brooks), her estranged divorced Waspish absentee aloof surgeon father Oliver (John Lithgow), and their financial woes–her worker stealing $12,000 from her boutique and his struggling start-up retro record company trying to sell 10,000 Graham Parker albums to survive by a campaign to make the fading from the limelight singer commercial again.

The thin storyline in this overlong episodic film is unnerving. It has scenes of screaming children putting a damper on their parents’ sex life, invasive medical exams, flatulence as a bedroom problem, and a centerpiece rant scene byCatherine (Melissa McCarthy) that best captures the pic’s charming madness. Catherine‘s the tough-talking mother of Joseph (Ryan Lee), a Tom Petty lookalike and classmate of Sadie who ruined her Facebook page with foul insults and was attacked for that by Sadie’s mom after she read her daughter’s emails by invading her privacy.

On its serious side, it covers the pressures of maintaining a marriage in today’s ever-changing liberated world, in a country undergoing a financial crisis, of raising kids to behave correctly even when mom is caught smoking cigarettes she forbids the kiddies, the tribulations of leading a healthy life as an alternative to eating junk food, keeping up appearances with the neighbors and of getting with the New Age of socializing through technology.

It’s more mature than Apatow’s previous films (which might not be saying that much) and all the characters in their odd ways of pushing the envelope show they are comfortable in their skin. Nevertheless this typical Apatow raunchy comedy just doesn’t completely work for me as it seems to for a wider audience. But I enjoyed some of the supporting parts, such as the likable idler Albert Brooks’ comic efforts to explain why it’s good to take money from your son, Chris O’Dowd’s role as the flunky working for Rudd who is trying to make his laziness a virtue, and Jason Segel as the smug physical trainer laughably trying to claim credit for Mann‘s tight ass. It paints a rather honest and harsh portrait of the slick Hollywood showbiz crowd, who feed off their vanity and ability to take a punch.