Worth A Look: 31.54%
Pretty Bad: 2.68%
Total Crap: 7.38%
12 reviews, 77 user ratings
|40-Year-Old Virgin, The
by Scott Weinberg
I love this movie. I love that it's sweet, sexy, ribald, and raunchy at the same time; that it's populated with characters you grow to love almost immediately; that it's clearly made with actual grown-ups in mind; that it's not ashamed to dole out smart semi-smut and creative carnality; that it's brought to life by actors so funny it makes your cheeks hurt; and that it made me laugh like I haven't laughed in about a decade. This is not only one of the year's best comedies; it's one of the year's best movies, period, and if you folks don't go out and support this movie, I may end up having to stalk you until you do.Steve Carell is a guy we've all been "discovering" for the past several years.
"One of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Yeah, I said it."
"That guy from The Daily Show! Um, he was the news-guy in Bruce Almighty; the one who was forced to speak mega-babble!"
"(Sigh.) He was the hilariously obtuse Brick Tamland in Anchorman! He's the star of the American version of The Office!"
"Oh, that guy! Is he really all that funny? He looks like a comedian's straight-man!"
Folks, let me tell you something. I've been a connoisseur of American comedy since about 1980, and I've come across very few comedians as craftily talented as Steve Carell. What lurks beneath that generic-looking everyman exterior is the heart of a comedic immortal. This guy could make the reading of a nutrition panel funny. It's almost unfair that someone like Carell should have such talent while guys like Rob Schneider expend all their energy for nary a chuckle.
But Mr. Carell has finally made the leap into leading-man country, and the resulting film, The 40 Year-Old Virgin is probably the funniest American comedy since Cameron Diaz moussed her hair with Ben Stiller's manly discharge. The 40 Year-Old Virgin has more laughs in its first 45 minutes than Wedding Crashers has in two hours ... and I really enjoyed the hell out of Wedding Crashers!
Carell plays Andy Stitzer, a completely sweet and almost entirely clueless stock manager at an electronics store. Andy leads a solitary yet contended life surrounded by his action figures, comic books, and video games. But when three of his colorful co-workers invite Andy to an after-hours poker game, it's the event that starts Andy's mid-life resurgence.
Andy accidentally lets the guys know that, despite being four decades old, he is still a virgin. David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Falco), and Cal (Seth Rogen) are initially blown away by the revelation, but their casual mockery of Andy turns into full-blown friendship as they try to teach our hero the ways of the womanly world. Before too long, Andy has to choose between a seriously sexy bookstore employee (Elizabeth Banks) and a single mother of three (Catherine Keener) who's as sweet as she is skeptical.
Plot-wise, that's about it; the bulk of The 40 Year-Old Virgin deals with the numerous bouts of ineptitude that occur when Andy finds himself in close proximity to a person bearing breasts. From a speed-dating party to the bar scene and several stops in between, Andy comes pretty close here and there, but his innate nervousness undoes the deal with alarming consistency.
The 40 Year-Old Virgin is basically about the ways in which men are hopelessly intimidated by women. As Andy slowly regains some confidence, his three co-workers grow to love the guy ... and so will you. Rare is the movie that actually deserves a big, blustery hug from the viewer, but The 40 Year-Old Virgin is precisely that sort of comedy.
Just when you're sure that the movie's only concerned with material sophomoric in nature, director / co-writer Judd Apatow offers a moment of outright sweetness. And it's this palpable sense of heart and humor that elevates The 40 Year-Old Virgin into something a lot more substantial than "just another sex comedy."
And the cast ... words almost fail me. (I said almost.) As Andy's three new pals, Rudd, Falco, and Rogen achieve an "every-guy" chemistry that's generally unseen outside of bars, poker games, frat houses, or Xbox parties. It only takes about thirty minutes of the film before you realize how much you really like these characters, and it's this distinction that makes The 40 Year-Old Virgin a lot more than just a "funny flick."
As Andy's wildly disparate potential love interests, Elizabeth Banks and Catherine Keener are simply flawless. Banks brings a "real girl" sexuality to her performance that the female moviegoers will undoubtedly appreciate, while Ms. Keener delivers some of her very best work as Trish. Those who know Catherine Keener only as an ice-blooded ball-buster may find themselves shocked as they gradually fall in love with her character here. (And high praise indeed is due to Mr. Apatow for hiring an age-appropriate actress for this role; it would have been a lot easier to cast a hot, young siren for this role -- but she wouldn't have been nearly as charming.)
And Carell? Flawless. He makes the leap from supporting stooge to leading-man lunkhead with appreciable grace and skill. If Andy Stitzer is portrayed as too geeky or clueless, we'd have very little to relate with. But Carell strikes a perfect balance between scared, sensitive, and sex-hungry, and the character never once overstays his welcome.
Some might say that The 40 Year-Old Virgin runs about fifteen minutes longer than it needs to, and that the steam runs out before the end credits manage to show up -- but I was so invested in these crazy characters, I could have dealt with an extra 45 minutes of Andy's virginity.No lie, folks. "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" had tears streaming down my face; my throat was raw and my ribcage actually hurt from all the laughter. (I also had a friend next to me who kept elbowing me in the ribs every nine minutes.) I left this movie on an absolute high, madly in love with this brilliantly crafted comedy, desperately excited to see it again, and all-but obsessed with getting other people to go see it. Support this comedy and we'll probably get a few more just like it. So do me a favor, movie-fans: Go give "The 40 Year-Old Virgin" a shot. If it tickles you even half as thoroughly as it did me, you'll walk out thinking it's one of the funniest flicks you've seen in years. Because it is.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12748&reviewer=128
originally posted: 08/19/05 19:08:43