40 Year-Old Virgin, The (2005)
Release Date: August 19th, 2005 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Judd Apatow Actors: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, Chelsea Smith, Jonah Hill
he 40 Year-Old Virgin” is the first of director/producer/writer Judd Apatow’s great successes, written in part by star Steve Carell and featuring many familiar faces – several of whom have gone on to star in their own comic vehicles. Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jane Lynch, Romany Malco, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, and more round out the cast of the now recurring Apatow crew. While the plot is relatively simple, it is one of the first contemporary, raunchy reinventions to have a prosperous execution and reception (akin to “American Pie” back in 1999). Many concurrent and recent projects (as well as plenty of future ones) focus on the pursuit of physical love by the inexperienced, but “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” is the only one to headline an older man trying to accomplish the tricky task.
Andy (Steve Carell) has a regular routine: working out, showering, making breakfast, and going to work on his bicycle, alone, at Smart Tech, a generic electronics store. His weekends consist of assembling sandwiches, collecting action figures, and playing video games – which don’t inspire material to match his coworkers’ water-cooler conversations about adventurous sexual exploits. A few employees suspect he’s a serial killer, while others just accept his boring, introverted personality; essentially, he suffers from “nice-guy syndrome.”
When Andy gets invited to a casual poker game with a group of Smart Tech’s staff, he accidentally reveals that he’s a virgin – made worse by the fact that he’s 40 years old. After Andy suffers a bit of humiliation at the hands of his acquaintances, he’s convinced by David (Paul Rudd) to go out on the town for fun – no sex involved. But everywhere he goes, Andy is surrounded by sexual suggestions – from magazines, girls on the streets, and dogs in the park to advertising wraps on buses. It’s impossible to avoid it, and it plagues him through a series of comedic mishaps, starting with an alcohol-fueled bachelorette party before moving to a Date-A-Palooza and an episode with a transvestite prostitute.
Andy’s unique, sympathetic situation encourages his coworkers to become something of an entourage. Jay (Romany Malco) is the loud-mouthed partner-in-crime, who guides Andy in the ways of grooming and striving to bed dozens of “hood rats” to gain experience; Cal (Seth Rogen), on the other hand, explains the finer details about talking to women. David, a bitter guy with problems letting go, is content delivering a big box of porn for inspiration. Meanwhile, on the nonsexual side of their lives (though still infused with innuendo), customer poaching dominates the sales floor, embellished with harsh language and dirty, racial arguments. Nudity and crude gags fills the gaps between work and play, joined by constant barrages of perversely humorous dialogue and drunken antics.
Just the basic pitch is enough to evoke smirks – coupled with the theatrical posters, featuring a bright-eyed, innocent-looking Carell. But what separates “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” from other run-of-the-mill adult comedies is the sincerity of Carell’s performance and a few genuinely romantic interludes that give the story heart, which transcends simple laugh-out-loud gimmicks. It also helps that the supporting cast is so strong. And several unforgettable scenes, including the now famous body-waxing stunt (too much for any weak stomach) and Andy’s first attempt at putting on a condom, stand out as hysterical – and painful – bits of slapstick to complement the funnily abrasive repartee.
– Mike Massie