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Fortysomething

79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A man and his marriage on the verge of a hilarious meltdown

How do you know when you’re having a midlife crisis? Maybe it’s when you can’t remember exactly where your wife works - or whether she works at all. Or when your children have a more active sex life than you do. Or maybe it’s when you start to hear the unspoken thoughts inside other people’s heads.

Hugh Laurie (House) stars as Paul Slippery, an anxiety-ridden British doctor suffering from all those symptoms and more. His wife (Anna Chancellor, Four Weddings and a Funeral) has embarked on a new career and perhaps an extramarital affair or two. His three oversexed sons mock him without mercy. And at work he’s tangled in red tape and tormented by a flaky colleague.

Guest stars include Stephen Fry, Laurie’s partner-in-comedy from shows such as A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster, and Blackadder. With its delightful cast and zany repartee, Fortysomething turns the fears and foibles of middle age into high comedy of the kookiest kind.

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Fortysomething, starring the ever-engaging Hugh Laurie (House M.D., Jeeves and Wooster), is far more intriguing and peculiar than its generic title suggests. Paul Slippery (Laurie) wakes up one morning and can't remember the last time he had sex with his wife Estelle (the lovely Anna Chancellor, finally getting a sympathetic role after years of being the woman no one likes in Pride & Prejudice and Four Weddings and a Funeral). Paul's midlife crisis takes forms both fantastic (he thinks he can hear his wife's thoughts) and prosaic (he's baffled by the romantic entanglements of his three sons, two of whom keep trading partners with a pair of vivacious sisters). Estelle, for her part, is anxious about returning to work again after many years as a mother and housewife. One of Paul's coworkers tries to lure Estelle into an affair and Paul finds himself experimenting with herbal aphrodisiacs and dressing in an Islamic chador to get into an woman-only seminar. This tale of middle-age frustration skirts cliche but is rescued by off-kilter humor, whimsical digressions, a superb supporting cast, and smart writing, but above all by the rapport between Laurie and Chancellor. The warm yet combative chemistry between these two is perfectly suited to a couple who haven't fallen out of love but have lost their spark. A few plot elements of Fortysomething go awry--when Estelle tries to arrange a reunion with old friends and Paul thinks she's having an affair, the episode never quite transcends the overfamiliarity of the setup. But by the end, you'll be sorry to lose the company of this charming family. Laurie also directed three of the series' six episodes. --Bret Fetzer

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Product Details

  • Actors: Hugh Laurie, Anna Chancellor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Neil Henry, Joe Van Moyland
  • Directors: Hugh Laurie, Nic Phillips
  • Writers: Nigel Williams
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Acorn Media
  • DVD Release Date: April 8, 2008
  • Run Time: 293 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0011FLGV0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,565 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Fortysomething" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Missy Hoppe on June 18, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I am a long time fan of Hugh Laurie, and in my endeavors to try and collect everything I can possibly find that he's been in, I stumbled across this 2 DVD set. I am so happy I bought it! It is absolutely brilliant; Hugh's character, Paul, is somewhat of a cross between House and Wooster. I simply adore this show; the first episode in particular is truly hilarious: one of the many high points is when two of Paul's adult sons are fighting over a girl and Paul orders them to go to their rooms. Sex is a major theme throughout the series; one of the running jokes is that Paul can't remember the last time he and his wife have made love while his sons spend most of their time fighting over a pair of sisters. In spite of the sexual elements, I found the show to be refreshingly tasteful, especially compared to the majority of American shows. Further more, its obvious, at least in my opinion, that in spite of their problems, Paul and his wife were still quite devoted to one another. I'm sorry to say that I'm probably not explaining this show very well, but I can assure you that this is one of the best dvd purchases I've made in a very long time. If you like Hugh Laurie even a little, this is a must own.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Allan M. Lees on March 28, 2012
Format: DVD
In a world of crass comedy-by-numbers in which insensitivity masquerades as "edgy" this series is something quite different. The comedy is low-key and never cruel, and even the minor characters get developed enough along the way to be interesting. While the first episode initially seems as if it's going to be too mechanical, Laurie's character Paul develops quickly enough for us to be touched by the humanity of the guy. And that's what is central to this series: in the middle of all the quotidian upsets and misunderstandings, in a world in which everyone is too busy to connect, Paul struggles always to do the right thing in a confusing world even though he is never encouraged or acknowledged. It would have been very easy to write a series in which the middle-aged man is an object of ridicule; instead, this series cleverly sets up all the standard tropes but turns it around by enabling us to empathize and sympathize with Paul.

One of the core themes is the fact that Paul and his wife Estelle have't had sex for so long that he can no longer remember the last time they did it. On the surface this could be an indictment of Paul - classic old guy, losing his ability and his memory, isn't it funny, etc. But instead of this obvious stock approach we see Paul struggling to find ways to reconnect to his wife, whom he adores, even though she's now moving out of the family orbit and back into the world of work. He tries to support her even though she gives him a hard time. Laurie is excellent at conveying Paul's sense of being adrift in the world, of conveying his humanity as he struggles always to do the right thing.

Not since the old BBC 2 TV series Butterflies with Wendy Craig and Geoffrey Palmer has there been such a delicate blend of pathos and humor, of vulnerability, confusion and old-fashioned family values. It's charming and heart-warming. And there are some great cameos from the supporting cast.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ember on November 1, 2009
Format: DVD
This is one of those shows that people seem to either love or hate. I loved it. The humor is offbeat with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. It's sweet in its own way. I'm usually not much for British comedy but this one worked for me.

I've read reviews complaining about the behavior of some of the people in the family, but what you have to remember is that this was intended to be a series. Character development takes time, and not everything needs to be revealed all at once. It's a shame that it was canceled before there was time to give more insight about the family.

I knew going in that this was a canceled series and was worried that it would end on a cliffhanger with no good resolution. It doesn't. Everything wraps up nicely in the sixth (and last) episode, in a way that almost makes this more like a miniseries.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Another Jen on April 16, 2008
Format: DVD
If you love Hugh Laurie in "House" then check him out in this British series he did right before becoming the grumpy old doctor we adore. In "Fortysomething," he plays another grumpy, but a little less old, doctor and a family man facing a midlife crisis. It's hysterical and real and Hugh Laurie doing what he does best.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A.C. Winters on December 2, 2010
Format: DVD
I happened on this on public television last week and my stomach hurt from laughing. (It was Episode 2, which was probably the best.) I had to immediately order the DVD's. The supporting cast is excellent. I am a huge Hugh Laurie and House fan, but he is incredibly engaging in this. Also becoming a big Benedict Cumberbatch fan. I felt smitten with him in this as the oldest son. Just in scenes where he is smiling at his family, he is marvelous. (Recently enjoyed his starmarking turn in Sherlock from the BBC.) This comedy is very modern and could have had a long run, I think. But then we never would have had House.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Janet E. Brown on August 14, 2008
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I bought this because I'm a fan of both Hugh Laurie and Anna Chancellor and thought it might be fun to see them in something together. The series wasn't *bad*, exactly, but it was at best average, and I'm not surprised it wasn't renewed. The cast did a good job trying to make the characters three-dimensional, but, unfortunately, most of the show's running themes were somewhat juvenile and cliched. All in all a mixed bag.
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