Linda Cook review: ‘The 40-Year-Old Version’ is great (grownup) fun

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Radha Blank has to be the most watchable woman on the screen at the moment.

She plays a sorta/kinda version of herself in this grownups-only comedy she also wrote and directed.

Her character, also named Radha, is about to turn 40, and it’s bothering her. She really wants to be a playwright, but ekes out a living as a teacher.

She hasn’t had any of her work produced for years. Her best friend Archie (a marvelous Peter Kim) tries to talk her into taking some sort of action to get her creativity flowing.

But Radha, who has recently lost her mother, just can’t seem to find the energy to readdress her theater career.

While Radha begins to reconsider her life, she discovers she has a knack for rap. But performing isn’t as easy as she had imagined.

This semi-autobiographical film, which earned the Directing Prize at Sundance earlier this year, is based on a web series Blank started about six years ago.

The real Blank seems to be on a roll – not only because of this movie. Spike Lee has hired her as a writer for the Netflix reboot of “She’s Gotta Have It.” Her movie looks a lot his original.

I enjoyed the characters throughout, especially the students in her class and the younger man who is attracted to her, even though Radha at first rebuffs him. Then there’s the homeless fellow who regularly jeers at her and the neighbors in the area, all of whom have something to say – many things, actually – about Radha approaching 40.

Theater buffs will applaud the perspective on how a play is written, produced and, finally, performed, all to great comedic effect here.

I hope we see more of this terrific filmmaker soon.

3 1/2 out of 4 stars

Rated: R for foul language and sexual situations.

Running time: Two hours and three minutes.

Streaming on Netflix.

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