In case you’re living under a rock, you likely know that Judd Apatow‘s latest dramedy, “This is 40,” is a sort of spin-off or follow-up to his 2007 comedy, “Knocked Up.” To recap: Ben (Seth Rogen) and Alison (Katherine Heigl) are the leads of “Knocked Up” and “This Is 40” centers on two of the supporting characters of that film, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) — Debbie being Alison’s older sister in the film. Got that?
“Knocked Up” focused on Ben and Alison, an unlikely pair that really only got together because Alison accidentally became pregnant after a drunken hook-up with Ben. After a variety of ups and downs, the film ends with Ben and Alison together, with the pair driving off into the sunset after she gives birth to their baby girl. So the question on many people’s minds is: did the couple stand the test of time? Did they make it and does “This Is 40” hint at their status?
Well, the answer is no, not really. “This Is 40” screened in L.A. recently (here’s one early review) and as suggested (and confirmed by L.A. screenwriter Brian Dunfield), there is no cameo, and no real mention of the duo, aside from a pot-cookie reference that can be found in the script that was recently put online by Universal. In the script (and final movie) Pete says in one scene referenced in the trailers, “You know what I brought? A medical marijuana cookie. Ben gave it to me last Christmas.” And evidently that’s the only reference to the couple at all.
But apparently Apatow tried to include further nods to the couple, but they didn’t make the final cut. “I shot some stuff, in case the audience demanded to know,” Apatow said in a recent interview with Film Comment. “I shot a version where Pete talks about how Ben and Alison live in Atlanta where she works for CNN. I covered my ass quite well. But when I was conceiving the movie, my interest wasn’t in what happened to Ben and Alison, because Pete and Debbie in a way are Ben and Alison. They were always meant to be the future for them, and in a lot of ways in ‘Knocked Up,’ Ben and Alison and Pete and Debbie are meant to be the same couple. They’re a fabricated, exaggerated version of Leslie and myself at two different ages.”
So there you have it. A glimpse at what probably happened to Ben and Alison, even though it’s not in the final film. Maybe on the DVD extras which tend to be rather long in Apatow films (and the film itself is over two hours).But, why a spin-off film you ask? Well, as Apatow notes in part of his response, he’s kind of made, or at least been part of, three of them so far.
“Part of it is also that I wish more people made movies like this. I like characters in certain movies and I wish they had their own, stand-alone movies. ‘Pineapple Express‘ came out of an idea I had when I was watching ‘True Romance.’ I just thought the Brad Pitt character was so funny; he’s a mess, he’s on drugs and suddenly people are trying to kill him, and I thought, ‘I want to watch a whole movie where this guy’s trying to get away from killers but it’s really hard because he’s high,’ ” he explained. “And after Nick Stoller and Jason Segel made ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall,’ I thought it was a fantastic idea to do a movie about Russell Brand’s character, which became ‘Get Him to the Greek.’ I thought, ‘Yes, you can do a legitimate movie that’s about someone you met in a different film,’ and when I told Universal, they didn’t think I was insane for thinking this would be an interesting exploration, just like ‘Rhoda‘ was an interesting exploration after ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show.’ ”
Film Comment also provide three new images from the film which you can see below and above. The film co-stars Albert Brooks, Megan Fox, Jason Segel, Chris O’Dowd, Lena Dunham, Melissa McCarthy, John Lithgow, Charlyne Yi, Maude and Iris Apatow and more, including Ryan Lee from “Super 8” who apparently plays Maude’s love-interest in the film (see the clip below). “This Is 40” lands in theaters on December 21st.