The 40 Year Old Virgin

The 40 Year Old Virgin


Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

When American Pie and There’s Something About Mary hit cinemas way back in the late nineties, their success prompted film companies everywhere to green-light a succession of movies intended to have a similar impact. However, the result was a string of thinly-veiled copy cats where the creators failed to realise that a recognisable story with depth was equally as important as gross-out gags and loud humour. Unfortunately, today there are sadly too few filmmakers or movies that can strike the perfect balance. Pleasingly, director/co-writer (along with Steve Carell) Judd Apatow, is one such filmmaker and The 40 Year Old Virgin is one such movie.

Despite being a really nice guy, 40-year-old inventory stocker Andy Stitzer (Carell) has still not lost his virginity. When his salesmen co-workers, David (Paul Rudd), Cal (Seth Rogen) and Jay (Romany Malco) realise he is a decent guy to hang out with, they take it upon themselves to help him find a woman so he can finally have sex. Making things more complicated, Andy meets Trish (Catherine Keener), who he actually likes, and then his quest becomes even more nerve-racking…

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While undoubtedly snort-out-loud funny with many a look-away wince-inducing moments, it’s first and foremost a realistic tale with a sweet centre that makes many accurate observations about dating, sex and the awkwardness of both. Though the storyline may be a closer to American Pie - the pursuit of a first-time sexual experience - the movie is actually more similar to There’s Something About Mary (it even ends with a big number sung by the cast) and is the first worthy successor to the Farrelly brother’s hair ‘gel’ slicking comedy.

In one of the most obvious parallels, Apatow gives us a mature central character, who is well-meaning, very likeable and honest to the point at which people take advantage. A complete geek, who spends hours playing Halo and online poker in his Forbidden Planet-like room (with typical Carell nods to Steve Austin and Aquaman), we instantly sympathise with Andy and root for him to ‘get the girl’. Indeed, a few years ago this role would have Ben Stiller written all over it (Carell even rivals him in the hairy forearm department).

As far as the humour is concerned, Apatow’s strength lies in balancing the crude side-splitting comedy (Andy’s ‘morning wood’) with the ‘that is so true’ humour (woman’s need for reassurance). Though occasionally straying close to conventionally dumb laughs, the discussions about how long you wait until calling a girl and how bad at sex you will be even after practice shows a near-perfect understanding of how guys talk to each other. What do you mean, that’s just me?

Giving Andy some needed – and often unwanted – support, Rudd (Mike from Friends) is the nice one who can’t get over a past break-up, Malco is the smooth talker (“from now on, your dick is my dick”) and Apatow’s buddy Rogen provides all the harsh truths. As for Keener, she makes a good claim as the most attractive grandmother character in cinema. Seriously.

It’s been a few years since Hollywood has given us anything like The 40 Year Old Virgin. Though some might dismiss it as ‘another gross-out romantic comedy’ (I initially did), Apatow’s first feature movie is much like its main character; funny, endearing, full of truth and – ahem – fills a hole poor wannabes failed to make their own.

Reviewed on: 23 Dec 2008
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American Pie for grown ups.
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Read more The 40 Year Old Virgin reviews:

The Remote Viewer ***1/2
Gator MacReady ***1/2
Angus Wolfe Murray **

Director: Judd Apatow

Writer: Judd Apatow, Steve Carell

Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Jane Lynch, Gerry Bednob, Shelley Malil

Year: 2005

Runtime: 116 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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