Consistent hard laughter gave me serious bladder control issues while watching Knocked Up a few years ago. DW and I went with another couple, considerably younger than us, and they didn’t seem to think it was as funny. Perhaps it was all the 80’s references, or the fact that the movie highlighted the pettiness and selfishness of 20-something-year-olds trying to pretend they are ready for adulthood.
I’m quite sure it was also easier to laugh at the ridiculous and overly dramatic antics of the dating scene, living pay check to pay check and the condescending family members pointing out all of your flaws when we were well past that season of our life.
Been there. Done that.
From a more mature perspective, I could laugh at myself.
So, when previews of the “sort of sequel” This is 40 started sprouting up, I couldn’t wait to park my rear end and watch another hilarious take on life, especially since I am turning 40 this spring.
DW and I went to dinner and a movie last night to finish out the week. We had a wonderful time talking about how our week had gone, what was coming up the next week, and what important things the kids were participating. Then we moved on to what books we were reading, talked about our perspectives on a few world events and family dynamics. I even believe we rounded out the evening making each other laugh at silly jokes and casual flirtations. By the time we got to the movies, the quiet between us felt like a comfortable embrace, as we walked hand in hand through the crowd of Saturday night movie-goers. We snuggled into our chairs, shoulders touching, anticipating a good laugh.
The theater was packed with a myriad of age groups. It was actually quite surprising how many twenty-something-year-old (and even younger) were present. Suddenly the opening scene jarred the audience to attention with the sounds of the main characters having sex in the shower and ending in an argument over Viagra, an argument that was not particularly well written or even remotely humorous. As the movie progressed, it only became less witty and more absurd. I think the entirety of the dialogue could be written on one piece of paper, if you omitted the word f**k. With each poorly written scene, more and more young people left the theater, and more 40-something-year-olds sunk deeper into their seats.
The movie was quite depressing, actually.
Every relationship orbited around selfishness, dishonesty, disrespect, pettiness, and a lack of contentment. Perhaps I am naive, or just incredibly lucky, but my circle of friends does not look like what this movie portrayed. Being 40 is not about using the *f* word as frequently as we take a breath, speaking inappropriately to other people’s children (or even our own for that matter), letting our kids talk to us like trash or planning the untimely deaths of our spouses. This movie completely missed an opportunity to embrace something other than dysfunction. There are things I chuckle at daily in my life.
For me, being 40 means being able to keep your knee socks on during sex so you don’t have to shave your legs every day. It means it’s okay to giggle when a spouse toots or burps in the middle of an intimate moment. Funny includes embarrassing our kids by wearing our pajamas while driving carpool or singing in the car to 80’s rock ballads. At 40, respectfully teasing our spouses about their idiosyncrasies, dysfunctional family members or pre-marriage antics is humorous. Eating off each others plates, sharing bathroom routines and hiding potato chips in the garage can be laughable. And yes, even vent sessions with our best friends about dirty underwear left on the floor, bras hanging over the shower door, unexpected hair growth or hair loss, unwanted changes in our bodies and even our insecurities about getting older is relate-able and funny. Now that I am 40, I realize how smart my parents were, drinking doesn’t make me funnier just louder, exercising isn’t so I can get noticed but so I can eat dessert every day and have no one notice. I appreciate at 40 that I can choose my own friends, say no and not feel guilty about it, spend money I actually have and say things like, “Because I said so” and “When I was your age“.
If this movie is really what the average person thinks 40 looks like, then no wonder there is such a negative stigma. Instead of highlighting the humor in moments of maturity mixed with youthfulness, showing how we deal with confidence versus aging and insecurities or joking about how to balance accomplishments with the conflicting desire to re-invent ourselves, this movie made 40 look depressing, undesirable and altogether immature.
“Life begins at forty.” – W. B. Pitkin