“Yeah, the cursing part,” Apatow said.
“Just cursing in the movie,” Mann said. “I don't like too much of that.”
This is a perspective that, if you've seen any of Apatow's work, you know he doesn't share.
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“Leslie always says to me when we get near the end of the edit, ‘How many (F-words) can you lose? Do you need that much cursing?'” Apatow said. “It's easy to have too much cursing because on the day (you shoot) it makes you laugh, and then you get into editing, and you realize everyone's cursing every other sentence, and then you spend six months cutting all the curses out.”
That's not all he cut out.
“When I first showed this to my friends to get some reaction, it was three hours and 36 minutes, and then slowly like a game of Jenga, you pull things out and see if you've ruined the movie,” he said. The movie,w which employed three editors, wound up at 2 hours and 14 minutes, long for a comedy but about par for the Apatow course.
The director said he starts viewing one of his movies with his wife when it's almost finished because “Leslie is great at catching an inauthentic moment.”
“I watch the scene, and if it doesn't like hit me in my gut … . I can't say exactly what is wrong, but that's the difference between us,” Mann said. “He's more in his head and thinking about —”
“The frame count,” Apatow said.
“But I can have like a gut reaction, and if it doesn't ring true, then it's —”
“And that's really annoying,” he said.
“Yeah, it annoys him.” She laughed.
“I'll go, ‘Isn't that good?' She's like, ‘Ah, it's not working.' ‘Why?' ‘I don't know! I don't know. It's just not working at all.'”
In the end, Apatow said, he became ruthless about axing jokes that, no matter how funny, didn't ultimately serve the story.
“Sometimes you notice that joke gets a huge laugh, but it's actually kind of killing the emotion of the rest of the scene,” he said. “So there were some great changes right at the end that really helped the last five minutes of the movie that were a result of just being really tough.”
Then again, Apatow and Mann agreed, little of “This Is 40” was easy, what with supervising their kids on the set while she and Rudd acted out painful marital spats.
“The big blowout scene was hard,” Apatow said.
“That was only hard because my tooth was missing,” Mann said.
“Oh, yeah, what happened to your tooth?”
“I had a tooth problem. A mean dentist who wouldn't give me the crown, and it was like a knife in my mouth.”
“And you thought that you were lisping.”
“I was lisping. If you watch it you can see I'm talking like this,” she said out of the corner of her mouth. “Because I don't have a tooth there. My crown was gone.”
“We didn't have too many hard days,” Apatow said, then added: “The whole thing was hard.”
“The whole thing was hard,” echoed Mann, later asking: “Does the ending make you happy? Does it give you hope? If you're hopeful at the end, that's what people need. At this time in their lives, they want to have hope, and if you don't have that, then …” She let slip one of those curse words and laughed before concluding, “… what's the point?”firstname.lastname@example.org