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THE FORTY YEAR OLD VIRGIN (R) (2005)

Universal Pictures

Official Site

Director: Judd Apatow

Producers: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson, Clayton Townsend

Written by: Judd Apatow, Steve Carell

Cast: Steve Carrell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen

Rating:


Steve Carell has the sort of face that one can easily forget. He’s attractive, in an ordinary, non-threatening sort of way. At 42, Carell is best known for his role on the American version of the cultish British sitcom “The Office,” and for his days as a pseudo-reporter on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.” He’s never been a big name. Until now. This role should make him a big star, quite possibly a household name. He’s a talented scene stealer, and here he holds the camera’s attention with a nervous intensity that never becomes overbearing or annoying. Rather, with his big brown eyes and his awfully serious stares, he reminds us of Ben Stiller, a quietly goofy nerd who’s also kind of cute but who, most importantly, is also very, very funny.

Walking around his lonely apartment with a gigantic hard-on, the film’s opening sequence tells us right away that this is not a film for kids. It’s a raunchy adult comedy. And though it pokes fun at everyone from blacks to gays to Muslims, it never feels offensive. Perhaps it’s because no one is left out of the onslaught, or perhaps it’s because it’s so damn funny that we just don’t care.

Andy Stitzer (Carell) is a geek, no doubt about it. He lives in Los Angeles but doesn’t own a car; instead, he rides a bike with his starched brown pantlegs carefully tucked into his matching socks. Slightly obsessive-compulsive, everything in his geeky apartment is neatly arranged, with nary a pile of dirty clothes or unwashed dishes in sight. He’s also a pretty fit fella, exercising regularly at home and eating his proper portions from the food pyramid. His apartment is cluttered (neatly) with every type of action figure known to man—all in their original boxes, unopened, proudly displayed as if he lived in a retro kids’ museum. Andy truly adores his collectibles, and he’s totally tricked out with the latest, greatest video games and control panels. Any kid would go crazy in Andy’s place, but that’s just the problem. He’s never outgrown his pre-pubescence, and sadly he lives alone, with no one to share all of his cool toys. Still, he’s not exactly moping about his single guy-dom. Andy seems content, if only because he has no idea what he’s been missing.

Every day Andy pedals happily to his ordinary sales job at Smart Tech, basically a rip-off of Circuit City. Cal (Rogen), one of the guys he works with, begins to fret and wonders if Andy might be a serial killer. After all, Andy’s weekend highlights are usually nothing more than making gnarly egg-salad sandwiches and watching old episodes of “Gunsmoke.”

When Andy is coaxed into joining his co-workers at a late-night poker match one evening, he finds himself forced to reveal his darkest secret—not that he’s a serial killer, but that he’s a middle-aged virgin. Now the guys, including a very funny (and slightly chubby) Paul Rudd, make it their mission in life to get Andy laid. Surprisingly, and refreshingly, the guys don’t berate Andy about his virginity; rather, they have real empathy for him. They genuinely want to help him find a girlfriend. Of course, these guys all have serious problems of their own with women, which leads to comic havoc and loads of laughs throughout the film.

Andy meets Trish (the delightful Catherine Keener), and following a little coaching from the guys, he begins to lose some of his inhibitions. She’s a middle-aged babe, conveniently located across the street from Smart Tech in a little store where she sells knick-knacks on eBay. The two are immediately drawn toward one another, and sparks begin to fly. But will Trish find out that Andy has never “gone all the way”? And if she does find out, will it repulse her or will she be charmed by his lack of sexual sophistication? By this point in the film, Andy’s character has endeared us to such a degree that we find ourselves on the edge of our seats, desperately hoping that Trish will love him for his inexperience, rather than become frightened by it.

Director Judd Apatow, who co-wrote the hilarious script with star Carell, really knows how to pace the film, giving the audience just enough time to catch its breath before the next new, unexpected plot twist arrives. Apatow has also wisely chosen to fill his scenes with classic songs from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s—songs that those of us over 30 remember fondly, and which cleverly match the film hero’s personality. The singing finale is so memorable and smile-inducing that I found it hard to stay in my seat—I wanted to get up and sing and dance and act like a fool with the rest of the cast on screen.

The Forty Year Old Virgin deserves to be a huge hit. As one of the funniest films in recent years, it doesn’t have the brilliant pathos of a film like Sideways. What it does have is a new star who shines impressively in an unforgettable role, and laughs that never wane from beginning to end. That’s not to say that Virgin doesn’t have moments where it falls into predictable, crass potty humor; it does. What saves it from joining the uninspired heap of Hollywood comedies (including the recent mega-hit Wedding Crashers), is some clever writing, screwball pacing, and a genuinely sympathetic main character who really deserves to be cared about. At its core, Virgin is a sweet film about love, about finding it after years of failure and wondering, finally, if it will ever come at all. It’s the kind of story we all fall for, the kind we’ll keep returning to the theater or the video store to watch over and over.

—Tiffany Crouch Bartlett

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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