Starring Paul Rudd as the husband, Pete, and Leslie Mann as his wife, Debbie. It’s a story of a married couple facing up to being 40. He runs a record company and likes Graham Parsons’ music, she is a business woman and frets about age. They both get on each other’s nerves, their adolescent daughter is also very difficult. Debbie’s father Oliver is played by John Lithgow, he is a surgeon and rather distant. Pete’s father Larry is played by Albert Brooks and he is clumsily friendly. They have parties and arguments and might learn to love each other.
Sometimes the humour in this film gets a bit lavatorial, but mercifully never descends to Adam Sandler’s depths. There is a lot of nastiness, as when Debbie picks on a nerdy boy whose mother threatens comical violence against the couple for being bad parents. There are self righteous shouting matches. People on the verge of middle age are supposed to find all this relevant to their lives and quite hilarious but I was put off by the smug self regard of these people. The record company is failing and they are going to have to surrender their suffocating affluence (diddums). Debbie objects to Pete giving money to his father, she is avaricious and hysterical. They have a touching regard for status and money, their anxiety about loving it is supposed to ratchet the tension through all this forced humour.
Demonstrations of everyday educated middle class observational acuteness are dutifully paraded: references to bodily functions, existential anxieties, sexual insecurities. We also get the well tested formulae of comedy situations relying on obsessional glitches and personal weaknesses as if acknowledgement of these is supposed to reinforce the rather routine wit. We know in the end that love will triumph over the tantrums and quirky self regard. It’s as if films like this are trying to outdo the oddities in Little Miss Sunshine. Debbie owns a boutique and thinks the flirty young employee is stealing from the company but it turns out to be the awkward geeky girl who, when confronted with the accusation, takes refuge in a weirdly senseless vocal performance. This is a disposable light weight film.