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In the just-released trailer for Judd Apatow's Christmas release this year, "This Is 40," they directly acknowledge the unusual DNA of the movie, referring to it as a "sort-of-sequel to 'Knocked Up.'"
I can't really think of any equivalent follow-up to a mainstream hit, where supporting characters just sort of take over the second movie and the original lead characters don't return at all. When I spoke to Apatow about the origins of the film on the set last year, he said his first impulse wasn't to do a sequel, but that as he started exploring the idea of doing a film about turning 40 and dealing with the issues that raises for people, he realized that he would essentially have to create a new Pete and Debbie, and why bother when he already had a Pete and Debbie that he knew audiences liked.
This is a nice introductory trailer, and it's interesting how much of the movie it doesn't even remotely suggest at this point. For example, we'll meet Pete and Debbie's parents in this movie, and we'll see Albert Brooks and John Lithgow show up as their fathers. We'll also see Debbie's business, a clothing boutique, where Megan Fox and Charlene Yi both work.
We do get a sense here of how it ties back in to "Knocked Up," and how we'll see some of the other Apatow regulars show up, like Melissa McCarthy, and we get a hint of the way they're going to grapple with the anxieties that are part of aging and the stresses of family and the difficulties that are part of marriage. And I guess Debbie's "do-better list" is about as close as you'll get to a high concept here, which is a good thing. Apatow doesn't really need to to find some big giant hook because he's got so much meat to deal with in the subject matter already.
I like the simplicity of this opening shot in what I'm sure will be a big campaign for Universal this year, and I look forward to the film itself, hoping it lives up to this first glimpse.
Apatow seems to be wagering that the Mayans were wrong, because "This Is 40" will arrive in theaters on December 21, 2012.