The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

14 Feb


Smith’s Verdict: ****

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”—with a title and story idea like that, you would expect a dumb vulgar comedy. But you’d be wrong…because it’s actually a smart vulgar comedy with more to it than its title and idea. This is one of those comedies where you laugh loudly at many scenes, but more importantly, you feel sympathy for the main character when it goes for drama and it works. “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is a guy movie written and directed by Judd Apatow and I was surprised by how wise, funny, and insightful this movie really is. There is so much to those standards that yes, I am giving the movie four stars.

One of the movie’s best qualities is the lead performance by Steve Carell. Carell, who also co-wrote the movie along with Apatow, plays Andy, a stockroom clerk who is forty years old and a virgin. He lives all by himself in an apartment full of action figures and video games, and he watches “Survivor” with the neighbors upstairs, although he has to bring the TV. He tried to have sex in high school and in college, but everything turned out so wrong that he just stopped trying. During his job, he has kept his virginity a secret from his ten-year-younger co-workers until they invite him to play poker one night and they share their own sex stories. Andy unintentionally gives away his secret when he says that women’s breasts feel like “bags of sand” to him. The buddies ask if he’s a virgin—he is.

So the buddies—wonderfully-played by Seth Rogen as a guy with advice such as “date drunks,” Romany Malco as a ladies’ man who seems to know his way towards women, and Paul Rudd who can’t seem to get over a breakup with his previous girlfriend—decide to work on him. All three guys have major flaws in the ways of seducing women, and they have major problems of their own, but they truly believe that they know what to do. But their plan to fix Andy with somebody special—actually, that’s a lie; they want to set him up with anybody—does not go very well. They set Andy up with wrong women, including a drunken woman (Leslie Mann, Apatow’s wife) who drives Andy home, barely making it alive and hardly making it clean. (You’ll see.) But midway through the film, Andy meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a kind woman who runs a store across the street from the mall, where she takes your stuff and sells it on eBay. She’s about Andy’s age and is probably not a virgin, but she is attractive and kind. And they start to go out on dates…

This is where the serious side of the movie takes place. How Trish coaxes Andy into asking her on a date when Andy is afraid of looking silly is surprisingly charming and well-written. This sets up their relationship through the rest of the movie, which is handled so wonderfully you forget the movie is also a comedy until Andy or the friends screw up again. The relationship between these two is sincere and very beautiful.

Steve Carell is pitch perfect in this role. He has that balance between comic and sincerity. He makes Andy a lovable main character. And he’s joined by many wonderful supporting characters, including the buddies who have brilliant comic timing, and Paula (Jane Lynch), a tall, striking woman who is Andy’s boss and gives him a tip about the term “sex buddy”—I love the scene where she sings him a Guatemalan love song without even stammering. And Catherine Keener is always fantastic one movie after another—she’s one of the best character actresses ever. Her character likes this guy; we know she’s probably going to end his virginity, but she is also very understanding.

Also, the movie has some huge laughs. One sequence in particular shows Andy getting his incredibly hairy chest waxed. That scene is hilarious and the outcome of that scene is even funnier. And then there’s a Bollywood tribute involving the four guys that had me laughing out loud. There are many other scenes like that that made me laugh—I won’t name them all to make the review funnier. In a way, this movie works both ways (quite strange for a movie called “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”). It works well as both a comedy and a romance.

Now, at almost two hours’ running time, this movie does feel a bit too long—that’s one minor criticism to this otherwise sensational comedy/romance. Judd Apatow and Steve Carell must have tried everything they could to make us laugh and cry. They succeed with flying colors. Thanks to clever writing and superior acting, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is a great romantic comedy. With a title like that, who would’ve thought?

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