Sunday, December 23, 2012

Don't get me wrong, I love babies

How do you photograph a storm? There is a storm.
It's been raining like the end of the world, about which, fortunately, the Mayans were wrong. Today I am staying in and baking pfeffernusse for my grandmother.

Thursday night, I made salpicon, a giant salad of romaine, shredded brisket, shredded cheese, out-of-season tomatoes, avocado, and spicy dressing. From The Homesick Texan by Lisa Fain, of course.  I loved it, but my husband thought the beef was stringy and that the dish was "very unattractive." He couldn't understand why you'd put brisket in a salad: "If you want to serve brisket, serve brisket and have salad on the side."

I suspect half of you will agree with him, half with me. Recipe is here.

Friday night, I made Fain's sopa de fideo, which was, as Isabel put it, like a bowl of spicy SpaghettiOs.  I loved this and will make it again and the recipe is here.

I am now about to write about a non-food topic.

The other day I took Isabel and two of her friends to the mall. They talked, I drove, the rain pelted down. Sometimes while chauffeuring I ask questions or make jokes, but I have to be in the mood to feel like a dork and I wasn't, so I remained silent. At the mall I killed time while they shopped by seeing This is 40. Are you familiar with this film? It's a Judd Apatow comedy about an attractive, frazzled couple played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, limping into middle age.

A short list of things I hated about This is 40:

Pap smear gags. Mammogram gags. Prostate test gags. Fart gags. Checking for hemorrhoid gags. Wife walks in on husband as he sits on the toilet gags (multiple). Viagra jokes. Megan Fox. Looking up Megan Fox's skirt jokes. Saggy breast jokes. Lena Dunham's pigtails. Lifestyle porn.

But what I hated most of all, was the ending.


Ok, the ending. The Promethean punishment dressed up as a happy ending for this struggling, bickering middle-aged couple with two children, including a teenager they can barely handle is . . . an unplanned pregnancy.

Which is to say, a brand new baby.

Look, I'm a sap about babies, but another kid is the last thing the dispirited couple in this movie needs. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann aren't going to get to start an exciting new chapter as their beautiful chicks fly the nest, they're going to just do it all over again, right from the beginning, and we're supposed to feel happy for them. I felt terrible for them. Is it impossible for Hollywood to imagine fresh, non-baby adventures for a fortysomething couple as their kids grow up? I love my children more than life, but I can imagine a thousand things I'd rather be doing 16 years hence than sitting alone in a mall movie theatre on a rainy afternoon waiting for teenagers to shop.


  1. You should do movie reviews in addition to your book reviews, but wait sixteen years. You do write so well.

  2. I am so dispirited about movies the last couple of years. They are so BAD. Now, I know that I am getting older, so my funny bone is not quite what is used to be, but all this sophomoric humor is getting old. And the ones that are not full of juvenile gags are so dark, end of the world dark. I loved the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I watch a lot of foreign films that I like, but most of them don't interest me. I am so glad you are into this cookbook. It sounds like it is a joy rather than a slog through this one.

  3. As a women's health care provider, I am so sick of how pap smears/pregnancy etc are portrayed in the cinema. As a 46 year old, the thought of having a 6 year old right now is just depressing and not cute/funny. I did LOVE "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

  4. I have wanted to see the marigold hotel movie for a long time, and will now do so.

    I do not understand the fervor for Judd Apatow. He seems like he goes back to the same well an awful lot.

  5. Thank you for this - I'd been considering seeing This is 40 when it eventually shows up here in Berlin but apparently I was more ambivalent than I realized because I zoomed right past your spoiler alert. I can certainly appreciate a dark or cynical movie but the more I read about this one, the more is just seems...mean. Thanks for the warning, and for all the lovely food talk over the years (and all the book talk the years before that).

  6. If someone offered to pay me $500 to sit through that movie, I'd have to pass. The trailer alone made me ill. And Freaks & Geeks was so wonderful!

  7. Yes, thank you for the This Is 40 spoiler. I hate wasting money on stupid humor. A totally quirky movie that you might like is Moonrise Kingdom.

  8. This movie was definitely "meh" for me, too! There is no story arc - no character development - its just laying it all out there for our amusement. She has a hobby job, and her husband's job is a hobby also, but they live in an amazing house, take vacations at the drop of a hat, and spend a lot of time thinking about their own fulfillment. Compare to About a Boy, When Harry met Sally, the 40 Year Old Virgin, Dan in Real Life... domestic comedy doesn't have to be mindless.

  9. My childless and not even close to 40-year old husband watched this film over the weekend. I barely paid attention. There were a few funny bits in the beginning, and the kids were cute, but it it dragged on (FOR TWO HOURS GUYS). At least I wasn't the only one who didn't enjoy it, and I'm not even in the demographic. It seems like Judd Apatow's creativity is a bit stuck at his own battle to understand his aging. The movie is essentially just one giant yawn of an attractive couple zipping around California in their expensive cars and complaining at their failed businesses. I do not understand his appeal as a director anymore.

    I loved your review. I love you blog and your writing.

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