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Entries in melissa mccarthy (2)

Wednesday
Jan022013

In Which Money Buys Judd Apatow Happiness

With Luxury

by SHELBY SHAW

This Is 40
dir. Judd Apatow
133 minutes

If anything, Judd Apatow should have titled his new effort This Is My Life In 2012, and not only because Apatow’s wife of 15 years is cast as the lead mom/wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann), alongside the couple’s two daughters as 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow) and 8-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow). Alternatives such as This Is Marriage or This Is Family or even This Is Life would not have been any better.

The family in This Is 40, rounded out by the deceiving and charming Pete (Paul Rudd), is anything but typical. Sure, the daughters go through tantrums against the parents and bouts of getting along/hating one another, and there are plenty of problems stemming from woes of finances and in-laws, but this is not the average American family. For one thing, their California house is gorgeous and massive, and at one point even called out as too big for the four of them by Pete’s overbearingly dependent father, Larry (Albert Brooks), who Pete secretly continues to lend money to despite having told Debbie he hasn’t done so in years.

Despite the family’s lavish home, decorated and conveniently organized like a Pottery Barn catalogue, and the private catering for Pete’s 40th birthday party (only days after Debbie’s own birthday, which is celebrated as turning 38), and the nice cars they each have, and Debbie’s personal trainer Jason (Jason Segel), and Sadie’s random anger outburst in her walk-in closet over needing new clothes – despite all this, the family is having financial problems.

Debbie’s clothing boutique, Lulu’s, is your dime-a-dozen L.A. clothing store, something you would find in the likes of New Canaan or Katonah, and seems to be relatively new at her career. Whatever she did beforehand for a job is a mystery. Pete is a music producer, and manages the British rocker Graham Parker, whose latest album is hardly selling past 600 copies.

So how does this family of four manage to have weekend get-aways and still afford their life in-house? While, let’s not forget, secretly supplying $80,000 to Larry, in order to support him, his wife and their test-tube triplets who are always dressed in the exact same outfit? Something seems a little suspicious about their money 'woes', until at one point (late in the film) Debbie mentions how Pete’s left Sony to work on his own. So he made a lot of money in the past, I guess, and it’s lasted them through now.

Oh, and provided all of their little goodies along the way. The cars, Pete’s bicycle and matching Livestrong gear, Debbie’s trainer, and the girls’ countless personal items (including photos with Justin Bieber and the Jonas brothers, both of which are events that probably happened in the Apatows’ lives but here are simply shameless props), constitute the mere basics – This Is 40 is essentially a commercial for Apple.

It would be impossible to think Apple was not a sponsor, considering how iPhone, iPad, iTunes, iHome, etc are all used not only physically, but named constantly by the characters. Yes, many/most people own an Apple product. But the way we just end up expecting the girls to watch Lost on an iPad, or for Pete to be found playing Scrabble on his iPad while on the toilet, or for Debbie to pull out her iPhone, or jump onto her MacBook in order to see if hot-to-trot salesgirl Desi (Megan Fox) is stealing $12,000 from Lulu’s, all feels like too much of a privilege.

Is this really what being 40 is about? Having all the latest technology in a big house with a swimming pool and caterers and doctors' appointments where they all seem to promise you good fortune and good looks and good health just for showing up? I may not be 40, I may not be married, I may not have kids, but I know that this isn’t what your average household is up to. Maybe in Los Angeles or Orange County, or even Fairfield or Westchester counties on the opposite coast, but I live there and that is not even what most of those families are like.

The film is about having privilege and luxury, alongside “common” domestic problems. But it probably does not speak to the majority of families, married couples, or even 40-year-olds in the country. Debbie’s constant fear of Pete losing interest in her would insult me as a viewer if I were 40 – I am sure the majority of women that age would kill to have Debbie’s looks; in fact, I would not mind looking like that right now and I am half her age. Together, the couple effortlessly steals the attention when they are out, like something out of a bank commercial, as pointed out by an angry and outlandishly brutish parent from school, Catherine (Melissa McCarthy).

I am not even sure that kids who would see the film, for whatever reason, would be able to relate to Sadie and Charlotte. Puberty can make any adolescent seethe with unwarranted rage. Sadie comes off as simply unstable with anger when she throws tantrums over needing new clothing in her walk-in closet or hating her family for not letting her carry out a bizarre obsession with watching as much Lost in as little time as she can. Meanwhile Charlotte seems the quiet prodigy of  a piano playing and humble family caretaker, but is more of just a Shirley Temple-esque face for the screen, making “cute” kid quips about this or that, often with the kind of stilted candor only a child who hasn’t had much time to practice the lines could deliver. Regardless, my biggest question is whether all kids these days own iPads and have iPhones that their parents take away when they are grounded.

The perfect lives of the family, chipped here and there by stress from work or each other, are hardly entertaining when the ending comes together in an almost too-resolved fashion. And aside from Rudd and Mann’s good looks, their conversations feed off one another like something from improv comedy; it’s like they constantly are mocking the other’s lines, and it gets annoying quickly.

The couple seems the most genuine when either high on marijuana cookies, practicing the kind of talk their therapist suggested, or simply crying. This Is 40 tries too hard to portray what it's trying to sell itself as: the poster-child for mid-life crises, family dysfunction and love, and coming to terms with yourself in your age. It should have been called This Is What You Wish 40 Could Be, because there does not seem to really be anything wrong.

Shelby Shaw is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer and artist living in Chicago. You can find her website here. She twitters here.

"What's All This Talk" - Ruby Fray (mp3)

"Barren Hill" - Ruby Fray (mp3)

Friday
Oct262012

In Which Fashion Is Our Passion

40 Secrets I Have Learned from
Reporting on the Fashion Industry

by MOLLY YOUNG

• Carine Roitfeld looks exactly like Iggy Pop and is incredibly sexy.

• This is a pair of facts which can’t be reconciled. 

• The fashion world is full of facts that can’t be reconciled.

• Here's another one: High fashion has always been a struggle between aesthetic values and market values.

• Success in the marketplace requires compromise.

• Artists do not, as a rule, like to compromise.

• Therefore some designers can seem to have an aura of hostility toward the market.

• This tends to demoralize the average consumer. 

• Nobody can help that.

• Runway shows are startlingly brief. About five minutes long.

• A lot of models have bad tattoos.

• Examples of bad model tattoos: smiley face, skeleton morphing into a woman on a diagonal axis.

• A lot of male models have chest acne.

• Most models, male and female, are pleasant.

• It is hard not to be pleasant when so little is asked of you.

• You can stare at models as much as you want, because that’s what they’re paid for. The normal rules of human conduct don’t apply.

• They are also habituated to it, so they barely even notice you looking.

• The amount of stuff a designer can do to a model for a runway show depends on his status.

• For example, you'd have to be a pretty big designer to get away with shaving blue mohawks into everyone's hair.

• Spring and Fall are the two main collections. 

• Stores demand more frequent infusions of new stock, so there are also “pre-fall” and “pre-spring” (resortwear) collections.

• This is why it seems like there is always a Fashion Week going on. 

• Resortwear is not clothing that you wear on a cruise.

• Economic failure doesn’t carry the taint in high fashion that it does in other creative industries, such as Hollywood. 

• But nor is it like Silicon Valley, where failure is an asset.

• A failed fashion show is always embarrassing.

• Fashion PR people tend to talk like press releases.

• Fashion press releases tend to be confoundingly dumb.

• For example, I am looking right now at a press release from a couture house in Paris. 

• The verb tenses change at random from past to present to future conditional. 

• Words are capitalized for No reason.

• It is 900 words long.

• The number of extraordinarily rich people in the world continues to grow.

• For this reason, luxury fashion brands are doing quite well.

• Even in a global recession.

• LVMH — parent of Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, etc — predicts this year's sales to reach $33 billion.

• 85 percent of women in Japan own a Louis Vuitton product.

• Unlike the rest of the world, fashion industry people do not assume that Hollywood celebrities have inherently good style.

• This assumption is largely correct.

• Designers are choosy about which celebrities they will dress.

• "Dress", in this case, means "give free clothes to".

• As one editor put it to me, "No one is lining up to dress Melissa McCarthy."

• The world is an ugly place.

Molly Young has written about fashion for GQ and New York magazine. She is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find her twitter here and her tumblr here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about living in New York.