Friday, June 7, 2013

Media Review Doubleheader: If This is 40, Bring on 50

Armed with a free RedBox rental coupon from the grocery store courtesy of Kellogg's (wha huh?), we sought out a movie the other weekend.  Having read the quite enjoyable 2012 comedy issue of Vanity Fair - edited by Judd Apatow and heavy on his sensibility - and having enjoyed Paul Rudd just about every time we've seen him, we chose Apatow's This is 40.

It may be that they shortened the title from This is a Version of 40 That is so Bleak and Depressing we Can't Remember Why we Made a Movie About It or Where we Left our Souls.  Or they should have.  The trailer features the laugh-y parts, but in reality, this sort-of-sequel to Knocked Up portrays depressing people completely incapable of being honest with themselves or others.  The first twenty five minutes were so bleak that we paused it and asked each other if we should go on.  There would indeed be something to laugh at every five minutes or so.  We told each other that if the characters could make real changes deep inside themselves that the movie would be a good redemption story.  Spoiler alert: it doesn't happen.  They blame everything and everyone else for their problems.  They're horrendous parents.  At the end, my competent wife asked "Do you think Judd Apatow really hates his life?"  Casting his wife as a horrible person married to a horrible person makes this a very viable question.

On the other hand, we've bored everyone we could raving about an obscure drama/comedy that lived a too-short two seasons and is now on DVD.  Men of a Certain Age, an original hour-long show from TNT (yup, that TNT) stars Ray Romano, Scott Bakula and my long-term man crush Andre Braugher.  I know!  Ray Romano!  Whodathunkit?  They portray three guys nearing 50 who went to college together and are still friends.  One's going through a separation, one's married, one is single and, um, busy romantically.  One has little kids, one has teenagers and one has no kids.  One has big daddy issues, one battles an addiction and one has to confront the knife edge of following creative dreams versus having enough to live on.  The show portrays real male friendship featuring real give-and-take and accountability.  They call each other on their sugar honey iced tea.  It's dramatic but also deeply funny.  We got attached to the characters and plot very quickly.

If you think you know Romano from Everybody Loves Raymond, Andre Braugher from Homicide or Scott Bakula from Quantum Leap, think again.  Spend 26 hours with these episodes and you'll see whole different sides of all three actors.  Despite all of the good TV out there, there's still not enough real, moving drama on television.  Do yourself a solid and check out these two seasons.


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