The movies you’ve directed have ranged from flat-out raunchfests, like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, to more dramatic comedies, like Funny People. Where does This Is 40 fall on that tonal spectrum?
It feels like it falls halfway between Knocked Up and Funny People. It’s definitely a comedy, and I’m going for laughs wall-to-wall, but it’s about a lot of real feelings and issues people have and it’s an emotional story.
This is the third time you’ve put your daughters, Maude, 12, and Iris, 10, in a movie, and they have pretty important roles as Pete and Debbie’s kids. What is it like directing them?
Working with them is a great way to not work with other people’s kids. [Laughs] Usually, I just buckle my kids into their chairs, feed them bacon, and toss them lines to say in the middle of someone else’s scene. This is the first time the two of them really had to carry their scenes and carry a story line…. The formula in our house is, ”Make Daddy laugh, get Daddy’s love.” I should probably stop doing that. It’s destructive. [Laughs]
This Is 40 deals with issues like parenthood, marital strife, midlife angst, and career anxieties — would you say it’s your most grown-up film?
It is interesting not having all of the characters be fresh out of college and only interested in talking about pornography and marijuana. That’s a little bit of a new arena for me…. [Laughs] The exciting part about the movie is that when people see it, everybody says to me, ”It’s like you put a bug in my house. These are the exact conversations and the exact problems we have.” Hopefully as it gets more specific, it gets more universal.