Now, as the cameras roll, Fox and Mann chitchat with the hockey studs while Apatow calls out funny lines for them to say, many of which are being scribbled on Post-it notes by a circle of women who sit around him in director’s chairs: Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote Bridesmaids, Paula Pell of Saturday Night Live, and Jenni Konner, who co-produces Girls. When it is discovered that one of the players has fake front teeth (and can remove them), Apatow yells out, “Do you miss your teeth?”—and Fox spits the line right back.
Though Rudd and Mann are reprising the roles, Pete and Debbie, that they played in Knocked Up, This Is 40 isn’t a sequel exactly. It’s more like a spin-off—”like Rhoda off of Mary Tyler Moore,” Apatow says—in that it drops back in on the lives of two characters who played supporting roles in the first film. Ask Apatow why he has returned to familiar territory, and he says, “I want to do the sequel of all of the movies I’ve made. Why wouldn’t you do ten Superbads? Forget another one. I’d follow those guys every year for the rest of their lives.”