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22 Things We Learned From the ‘This Is 40’ Commentary

“I think you think I never cut anything, but I cut tons of stuff. It’s long and I cut in half.”
This Is 40
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on March 21st, 2013

Judd Apatow’s latest film is a sideways sequel of sorts in that it focuses on two of the supporting characters from his highest grossing movie, Knocked Up. Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) are married parents approaching their 40th birthdays, but instead of getting easier, their relationship and the lives have grown even more difficult. Well, they’re still living in a big, beautiful home and driving expensive cars, but material things don’t guarantee happiness. Theoretically.

This Is 40 hits Blu-ray/DVD last week, and the hefty selection of special features includes deleted scenes, featurettes and some very funny outtakes along with a commentary featuring the writer/director riffing on the film’s production, cast and various musical cues. He also mentions his wife’s and daughters’ incredible acting talents.

Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for This Is 40.

This Is 40 (2012)

Commentator: Judd Apatow (director, writer)

1. Judd Apatow claims to have never used Viagra.

2. He calls his films “emotionally accurate” as the stories are usually 1/3 based on his own life, 1/3 observations of friends and 1/3 made up.

3. His daughter Maude (who plays the eldest daughter in the film) actually watched the entirety of Lost over the course of a couple months, and she became so infatuated with the characters and stories that she would hyperventilate at some of the more dramatic scenes.

4. It was Paul Rudd’s idea to have Pete and his friend fantasize about their wives dying.

5. Apatow wanted Lena Dunham in the film since they had been working on Girls and she was helping him with this script, “but now she’s so famous it’s just a distraction that she’s in it.”

6. Rudd’s fart scene was unscripted, but he thought it was appropriate for the character and the scene. Mann and the rest of the crew were not pleased.

7. The man in the surveillance video having sex with Megan Fox is actually Bill Hader.

8. The scene where Pete and Debbie are interrupted mid-fellatio by the screaming kids was filmed with Apatow voicing the kids’ cries. This was done presumably so Mann’s kids wouldn’t have to actually be one door away from their mom pretending to go down on Rudd.

9. Albert Brooks’ role was written specifically for him. Apatow was thrilled that he agreed to do it and even happier each night when he’d receive an email from Brooks with suggestions of funny lines for the next day’s shoot.

10. Apatow gave thought to different ways of adding Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl’s characters here including a Skype session with Rogen as a now-single dad.

11. One of the proposed poster designs was the image of Rudd with his legs in the air and small mirror covering his bung hole, but Rudd nixed it in the planning stages.

commentary fox

12. Apatow is uncomfortable asking actresses to disrobe on camera, and the scene with Megan Fox stripping down to her underwear was only made easier by her own comfort level with her body. He had no such trouble asking his wife to handle Fox’s boobs though.

13. The real estate agent on the phone with Pete is played by Tatum O’Neal. She had an actual on-camera scene, but it was cut.

14. The “Wendy who watches porn” character is played by Richie Sambora’s daughter, Ava.

15. He was given “an enormous music budget” for the film because he stressed the importance of songs helping make the film’s more serious moments more palatable for viewers.

16. He cast Ryan Lee from J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 as a continued part of the Lost in-joke.

17. The man talking with Debbie in the club is played by Wyatt Russell, son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn. “He’s ridiculously handsome and charismatic… I think my wife Leslie is falling in love with him right now if you look into her eyes.” The scene also features the film’s “only continuity error.” Apatow showed the film to Wyatt’s parents and “Kurt Russell laughed louder than anyone in the theater. He was as nice as I would dream that he would be. Since I’ve been watching him since I can remember.”

18. Apatow’s only reference to the couple’s appearance of wealth in contrast with their scripted financial issues is in regard to the art on their walls. “They have Mike Mill’s and Ed Templeton’s and there’s really a lot of interesting things around there…that probably they shouldn’t be able to afford.”

19. Joanne Baron, a real life acting teacher, plays the school principal, and the scene where Pete and Debbie have a meeting with her and Melissa McCarthy was a thank you to her for helping teach Mann many years ago. That’s also her real haircut which became the unintentional butt of many cruel digs during McCarthy’s rant.

20. Maude has a breakdown where she swears a lot, and Apatow points out that while she’s never had a similar experience in real life, she did get so angry once that she smashed a banana on the ground then rubbed it in her own hair.

21. Apatow rarely features any kind of stunt work in his films because he fears the possibility of someone getting hurt for his comedy.

22. The hospital bed kiss at the end came as a surprise to Apatow, and while he thought Rudd was just fooling around by making out with his wife in front of him, he later realized in the editing room how perfect it was for the scene.

Best in Commentary

Final Thoughts

Apatow opens the commentary by acknowledging that he usually does these with multiple members of the cast to help keep things lively and informal, but he needn’t have worried. Even alone there’s rarely a silent moment as he constantly finds things to talk about regarding the film, cast, crew and even his family. He’s never boring and offers a fine mix of anecdotes and explanations. And in case there was any doubt, he’s pretty sure his daughters are fantastic actors too.

Check out more commentary commentary in the Commentary Commentary archives

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Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since before you were born, which is weird seeing as he's so damn young. He's our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists 'Broadcast News' as his favorite film of all time. Feel free to say hi if you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.