Hollywood legend Cecil B. De Mille managed to do a balancing act that few other filmmakers could ever hope to match. He could titillate and moralize in the same movie, and few dared call him a hypocrite. If you watch his silent version of "The Ten Commandments," notice how the girl praying to the Golden Calf is gyrating provocatively in a bikini-like outfit before God strikes her down with leprosy. Just as De Mille could show a striptease in the name of the Lord, novice director Judd Apatow (who created the beloved but short-lived TV series "Undeclared") and "The Office" star Steve Carell can poke fun at the plight of a 40-year-old virgin without making an audience feel guilty."The 40 Year Old Virgin" can make fun of its title character’s inexperience with sex because the story is told from its title character’s point of view. Instead of ridiculing Andy Stitzer (Carell), the movie often indicates that the rest of the world can be under a situation that’s just as absurd as his own. Imagine a movie that can juggle hedonism, political correctness and family values in a 116-minute running time.
Because he keeps to himself and has a staggeringly large collection of superhero toys, many of his coworkers assume the fellow might be some type of serial killer. In fact some of the biggest laughs from Carell and Apatow’s script come from Andy trying to pass as a sexual veteran. If Carell's Andy weren't so likable, though, it would become a chore to see him gain experience for real.
When his "war stories" sound amusingly unconvincing, his "buddies" at work go to great lengths to help him correct his “problem.”
His co-workers at the electronics store have issues of their own. Jay (Romany Malco) is still playing the field despite the fact that he’s attached, David (Paul Rudd) is fixated on his breakup with his ex and Cal’s (Seth Rogen) idea of a good time involves watching sick things with horses. These geniuses try to set him up with a pretty bookstore clerk (Elizabeth Banks), who might not be a perfect match.
From singles meetings to trips to bars, Andy’s forced quest to rid himself of virginity leads to disaster. Worse, everywhere he goes, he’s practically assaulted by images of sex, and even the animal kingdom torments him.
His luck may change when he befriends a single mom (Catherine Keener). It has become a sickening norm that most movies feature leading men old enough to be parents of their female costars. So it’s rather refreshing to see a female lead who’s not only slightly older than the star but plays a grandmother as well. It doesn’t hurt that Keener plays her with enough charm to make the pairing credible.Not everything works. At times the film seems to ramble as if ten minutes were required to be glued back in, and Keener’s language seems more like that of a sailor than a single mom. Nonetheless, Carell and Apatow manage to have their penis jokes and a plea for monogamy in the same breath.