The 40 Year-Old Virgin (2005) / Comedy-Romance

MPAA Rated: R for pervasive sexual content, language, some drug use and crude humor
Running Time: 116 min.

Cast: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, Kat Dennings, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, Leslie Mann, David Koechner (cameo)
Director: Judd Apatow
Screenplay: Judd Apatow, Steve Carell

Review published August 20, 2005

Although the story is uneven, the laughs are still there, and plenty of them occur to make the 40 Year-Old Virgin one of the funnier comedies of 2005.  It definitely earns its R rating (almost pushing NC-17 at times), as there is a very high amount of vulgar language throughout, but its done in such a way that it avoids being excessively crude unless the joke really calls for it.  It is a sex comedy, which in the past has usually meant horny teenagers looking for their first score or adults that are oversexed to the point where they just want one true love in the end.  Virgin is somewhat unique in that it is a blend of both styles, with an adult that has the opportunities to lose his virginity, but something within him keeps preventing him from doing the deed. 

Steve Carell (Bewitched, Sleepover) stars as Andy Stitzer, a 40 year-old stock boy at a chain electronics store that has loser written all over him.  He opts to ride his spiffy bike wherever he goes instead of a car, he spends most of his free time playing video games or watching "Survivor". and for all of his life, he has never lost his virginity.  The men at work sniff this latter aspect out and make it their mission to get Andy laid at any cost.  They hit the bars, clubs, and the usual dating spots, and Andy actually does get some offers, but he is uncomfortable with it all, and the failure to consummate still persists.  Then along comes 40-something Trish (Keener, The Interpreter) who works across the street, who actually takes a liking to Andy, and while he desperately wants to get to know her better, he feels that his lack of experience will drive her away.  How will she react when she finds out he is still a virgin?

Carell, who also co-wrote the screenplay, makes a smash starring appearance here after giving us scene-stealing performances in previous efforts like Bruce Almighty and Anchorman.  Carell is a very funny man, although you wouldn't really know it to look at him, as he seems every bit an average joe as it gets.  I would argue that his looks are a great benefit to the film as a whole, as the fact that he seems like a sweet and geeky guy definitely makes his character feel much more realistic, and even when the comedy takes a turn into areas that one could easily consider crass, Carell's charm allows him to effortlessly retain his likeability in a way that Rob Schneider could never in a million years do.  On the other side of the coin, he doesn't seem like a man that couldn't get laid without some tweaks here and there, so when he draws the attention of the ladies, it doesn't really seem all that farfetched that they might take an interest so long as they don't know about his "kryptonite" of a home life.

The 40 Year-Old Virgin is almost always amusing, and some parts are gut-bustingly hilarious. Any comedy with such high notes more than earns its rights for knowingly contrived scenes and a bit of sloppiness from time to time.  If there is a downside to Virgin, it's the ironic combination of being edited too much to the distraction of continuity, while not being edited enough to keep the running length modest and to trim out some occasional moments of excess.  Some scenes seem heavily truncated, obviously edited to remove scenes that would probably have carried out longer.  I suspect the DVD release will feature an absurd amount of scenes that had been trimmed out, much in the way Anchorman, a similar screwball comedy that leaves no idea untried, had for its release.  Still, even with the cuts, Virgin runs a long time before it crosses its eventual finish line at almost two hours in length, and while it does seem to sputter as it begins to develop a conclusion, at least it finishes with a bang (no pun intended).

If you have a soft-spot for raunchy comedies, but are usually dismayed by their lack of intelligence, The 40 Year-Old Virgin is one of the rare ones that won't make you feel guilty for laughing your ass off at its attempts at gross humor.  With occasional turbulence, Carell and director Apatow soar to comedic heights in this high-concept endeavor, and unlike many that would follow similar paths in adult comedies (Wedding Crashers comes to mind), this one doesn't crash and burn as it approaches its destination.  Don't expect a sequel.

 Qwipster's rating::

2014 Vince Leo