In This is 40, the female character played by Leslie Mann is about to turn 40. But she’s not ready. At a doctor’s appointment, a nurse asks her to clarify her age. She wrote that she was born in 1972, 1974 and 1976 on different forms. After the nurse, an aid and the doctor drill her to tell the truth, she declares, “OK, I LIE ABOUT MY AGE.” She doesn’t want to shop at old lady stores like Ann Taylor Loft (oy vey, that’s my regular). Unfortunately, she can’t lie at the gyno. His response: “I know how old you are. I’m counting your rings!” Of course, he says this as her legs are spread apart and he’s looking down her vagina.
Later at her children’s elementary school, an old lady comes up to her and says, “Are you 40 yet? I remember when I turned 40. I blinked. And then I was 90!” Leslie Mann looks dumbfounded. We can’t turn back time, can we?
Later she tells her husband, played by Paul Rudd, that the happiest period of their lives is NOW between ages 40-60. They basically have twenty good years left. She gets down to business and makes a list of how the two of them are going to radically alter their lives to improve their remaining years: Exercise, spend more time alone, see a therapist together, stop stressing, work on anger and have less resentment, stop smoking.
Then we see them both going to the doctor – her mammogram, her annual pap smear, his dreaded prostate exam.
Oh, welcome to the good old days. When I turned 30, I was living in NYC and I was working in a god-forsaken job with a nightmare boss. I was in a relationship that was very on/off (he happens to be my husband now) and I was worried that my life was going nowhere. A year later, I was in a new job, married and going in a new direction.
The truth is that I don’t deal well with entering new decades. I put a lot of pressure on myself and think that I have a limited time to get things done. It happened again when I turned 40, only I was in a very different place. I had kids; I had already spent seven years of dealing with the whole family balance/work issue. My life was no longer my own.
Now like the Leslie Mann character in the film, I deal with children who won’t put electronic toys down, aging parents, financial issues, job and marriage issues and a desire to be happy everyday in the midst of complete and utter chaos. All this while trying to be a good role model for my children. I had to laugh when the couple in the film’s oldest daughter, played brilliantly by Maude Apatow, the writer/director’s daughter, cursed the parents and Mann’s character proclaimed, “Where did she learn to talk like that?” Paul Rudd’s answer: “No fucking idea.”
That’s the thing, if everything I do reflects on my children’s future forever more, I’m screwed. I do the best I can in every area of my life, but I always fall short. It’s hard to say what my kids want to hear all the time, it’s hard to make the right decision when I have too much on my plate.
And if all that wasn’t enough to deal with, then there’s the going grey, developing a middle age spread and going on job interviews where I’m interviewed by 20-30 somethings. That all kind of sucks.
This is 40 doesn’t touch on any of that (Leslie Mann actually looks WAY too good for her age), but it is a very funny, touching and realistic portrayal of what it’s like to hit 40 as a woman. Judd Apatow is very intuitive and he practically sees life through the eyes of a woman. The way he portrays marriage and parenthood hit home and I think I drove my sister talking out loud during the film – “That’s my husband!”… “That’s my daughter!”…”That’s me!” That was my life on celluloid. I related on so many levels that it would embarrass people in my family if I told you exactly how (some of it had to do with inner body functions). I don’t embarrass people here on my little blog here, it’s not worth the outcry that might (scratch that, and let’s say has and will) ensue.
And that’s what being 40 is all about – being able to laugh at caricatures of yourself and knowing that at the end of the day, it will be okay. Everyone will survive.
Oh, and don’t blink.
This is 40 premieres on Friday, December 21st in theaters nationwide.
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Disclosure: I went to a preview of This is 40 as a guest of Universal Pictures and was asked to write a piece about being 40, but all opinions are my own. I was not compensated to write this post nor feature the giveaway.