This is 40 is a new movie by professional funny man Judd Apatow. This is the guy behind Knocked Up, Freaks and Geeks, and other Gen X comedy favorites. Remember Pete and Debbie, the bickering couple from Knocked Up? This is 40 takes that couple, played again by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, and shows their midlife calamity as you’d expect to see it (this being an attractive married couple living in a cushy west Los Angeles neighborhood, driving two luxury cars and owning a sprawling house, things don’t look too bad from the outside). There are a lot of funny scenes, and some really funny scenes. However, as a travel writer, what stuck out for me most was the romantic weekend getaway that the This is 40 couple took in coastal Southern California.
Judd Apatow reimagines the Knocked Up couple in the This is 40 movie as having some marital difficulties compounded by a hormonal teenage daughter. A teenager by turns angry and weepy is probably familiar to a lot of us…and even strongly committed, happy couples might relish a weekend break from THAT particular mess. To get away and reconnect, Pete and Debbie (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters) escape to Terranea Resort. Terranea Resort, in Palos Verdes, is a gorgeous luxury resort that feels closer to Orange County 5-star resorts like the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, than it does to Los Angeles — but it’s actually, technically in Los Angeles County, making it a perfect quick romantic getaway resort for a busy, harried and fracturing couple.
As with many romantic travel experiences, in the This is 40 movie Pete and Debbie’s hotel stay allowed the fraught couple to reconnect and enjoy each others’ company. This being a Judd Apatow R-rated movie, there was of course some lowest-common-denominator humor along the way, but I appreciated how comfortable Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann were portraying this long-married couple like a second skin. It seemed like a natural relationship, even when they were arguing with each other and hiding actions from each other. Their quick weekend getaway helped start them back on the road to more openly communicating with each other. Just what the relationship doctor would have ordered. Talking about doctors, though…there were a couple of scenes in This is 40, taking place in medical offices, that truly make the movie deserve its R-rating. Don’t take young kids to this one!
During press interviews, I asked Judd Apatow, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann about their thoughts regarding the importance of romantic getaways and family travel. Judd Apatow told me that he and Leslie have simply so much focus on their kids during their down time because it’s a family priority. This makes it a challenge to remember that, as a couple, occasional time alone is important too. Leslie Mann (Judd Apatow’s wife, and the mother of the two girls playing her character’s daughters in Knocked Up and This is 40) said when she and her husband want a quick romantic getaway vacation, they go to Los Angeles hotels and resorts, just rent a movie, hang out, eat and talk. That’s enough to reconnect. In terms of family travel, Leslie Mann told me that they like to go to Hawaii — my favorite, too! — and in particular, the Four Seasons Resort on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii (nee Big) Island. This interview was taking place at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, so clearly, the Four Seasons was the resort-theme of the day.
Paul Rudd answered my travel question with a funny anecdote, and explained that his children are still quite young. He’ll take romantic weekend getaway vacations with his wife when they’re a bit older. Paul Rudd, by the way, is as amiable and personable as you might imagine from his on-screen personas; it may have been a challenge for Judd Apatow to make his character somewhat dislikable in This is 40. He was well cast, though. Considering some of the things he says and does, I can’t imagine having any respect for his character if it were played by a less likable actor.
Keep in mind that This is 40 is not a travelogue. The vast majority of it takes place in west Los Angeles and Santa Monica. While we don’t get to see the Pacific Ocean, we do get to see Jason Segel (another one of Judd Apatow’s acolytes) as Leslie Mann’s personal trainer in Santa Monica, and Melissa McCarthy (Hilarious in Bridesmaids and new to the Apatow crew) in two short scenes as well. This is 40 is a funny, imperfect movie about a funny, imperfect couple. But the couple sure do understand the importance of a romantic weekend getaway! If Judd Apatow ever makes This is 50, I’d be happy to see the couple and their all-grown-up kids again in ten years.
Universal Studios treated me to the screening and subsequent press junket day in Beverly Hills, California. However, the views expressed are — as always — my own.