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1 item from 2005

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

31 August 2005 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

If you're going to see a movie titled "The 40-Year-Old Virgin", you know one thing for certain: The guy is going to get laid. You might wish that it happens earlier than it does in this film, created by screenwriter-producer Judd Apatow, making his feature debut, and actor-comedian Steve Carell. If it had, this would have forced someone to think of a new joke. Sticking to one joke in an unconscionably long film makes for a very stale, witless and repetitive comedy.

The boxoffice for R-rated comedies is on the upswing because young viewers do love raunchy humor. Yes, those poisonous words "40-year-old" did get into the title, but 24-year-olds probably will find the idea funny. If promoted right, the film, made on a modest budget, should do good business in theatrical release and probably better in video/DVD.

The concept would make a great comedy routine. Something like Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner's 2,000-year-old man. But like that classic routine, though, you might not actually want to see these jokes acted out. For instance, the guy's well-meaning buddies give him all kinds of horrible advice about how to score. One is to pick up a drunk woman. That joke has two ways to go: The woman is so drunk that she crashes the car. Or so drunk that she throws up all over the poor guy. This movie chooses both scenarios -- and shows them. Not a pretty picture.

Or how about the body waxing scene? Because our hero is so hairy that he makes Smokey the Bear look bare, his gang drags him off to a salon. The idea of a female clinician waxing-and-ripping his chest and stomach sounds funny. But witnessing this strip mining -- well, this too is not a pretty picture.

Carell, who wrote the script with Apatow, plays a middle-age virgin named Andy. No reasonable excuse is made for his condition. OK, he collects action figures -- all in mint condition and worth a fortune -- rides to work on a bicycle and is hooked on video games. But arrested developing occurs in both sexes, so there is no reason why two such people cannot get it on. The movie just assumes that Andy wakes up one morning with a stiff member and the realization that he's never had sex.

When his co-workers at a large electronics store in the Valley learn of his desperate condition, they eagerly fall to the task of putting Andy out of his misery: The advice-givers are Jay (Romany Malco), an insecure serial adulterer; David (Paul Rudd), an insecure guy in love with the girl who dumped him; and Cal (Seth Rogen), an insecure youth nearly as clueless as Andy. Did I mention these guys are really insecure?

Early in the movie, Andy actually meets his soul mate, Trish (the marvelous Catherine Keener), an attractive and willing woman, who has a shop just across the street from the electronics store. But Andy doesn't cross that street for some time, and even then, Trish's young daughter and problems with condoms somehow block all romantic developments. In a sense, the movie is one prolonged coitus interruptus. Even Andy's boss, Paula (Jane Lynch), sexually harasses Andy, but he fails to notice.

The irony here is that the film is conceived and made by men, deals with a very male problem, yet it is the actresses who turn in all the memorable performances. Keener is funny, sexy and just enough off-center for her character to fall believably for Andy. Elizabeth Banks provokes solid laughs as a nutty and nasty sexaholic masquerading as a bookstore clerk. Leslie Mann as the drunk woman, Lynch as the too-subtle boss and even Miki Mia as the waxing salon lady fare better than the men.

One reason is that the men are tiresome cliches. Carell created his character yet seems not to know him at all. Once you get past the 40-year-old virgin joke, who is he? He can be a smooth customer in some scenes, then turn dense and naive in another.

Similarly, Rudd, Malco and Rogen supply plenty of energy, but their roles are inert. The joke is that for all their sexual experience, these guys are as baffled by females as Andy. But that joke runs thin in a 115-minute movie.

Technically, the movie looks more like television, with flat groupings of actors, high-key lighting and only a handful of sets.


Universal Pictures

An Apatow production


Director: Judd Apatow

Screenwriters: Judd Apatow & Steve Carell

Producers: Judd Apatow, Clayton Townsend, Shauna Robertson

Executive producers: Steve Carell, Jon Poll

Director of photography: Jack Green

Production designer: Jackson DeGovia

Music: Lyle Workman

Co-producer: Seth Rogen

Costumes: Debra McGuire

Editor: Brent White


Andy: Steve Carell

Trish: Catherine Keener

David: Paul Rudd

Jay: Romany Malco

Cal: Seth Rogen

Beth: Elizabeth Banks

Nicky: Leslie Mann

MPAA rating R

Running time -- 115 minutes »

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