The 40-Year-Old Virgin Review
By Shawn McKenzie 08/22/2005
I’ve been looking forward to seeing The 40-Year-Old Virgin for a long time. Along with Serenity in September, TV creators Judd Apatow and Joss Whedon are making their theatrical directorial debuts. Fortunately, Apatow’s movie didn’t disappoint at all (time will tell about Whedon’s movie.)
Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) is a 40-year-old stock supervisor at Smart Tech, an electronics store. He’s kind of a loner who bikes his way to work, where he has been for two and a half years. He collects comics and action figures in their original packages, plays video games in a really cool video game chair, and watches “Survivor” with Joe (Lee Weaver) and Sara (Gloria Helena Jones), the elderly black couple upstairs. His coworkers, including David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco), Cal (Seth Rogen), foul-mouthed Indian Mooj (Gerry Bednob) and his assistant Haziz (Shelley Malil), and their boss Paula (Jane Lynch), all think that he is a little odd…specifically they think that he might be a serial killer or gay. David and Jay have their own problems though. David is still obsessing over his ex-girlfriend Amy (Mindy Kaling), and Jay constantly cheats on his live-in girlfriend Jill (Erica Vittina Phillips.) When they need a fifth for poker, David, Jay, Cal, and Mooj reluctantly ask Andy to sit in. He is a surprisingly good poker player, having played it online many times. After Mooj takes off, the topic of discussion turns to sex. When the other three tell their sex stories, they ask Andy about him. He pretends to tell them about his experiences with sex, but the others see through his charade. They ask him if he is a virgin, and he finally confesses. It’s not like he is religious or is saving himself…he’s just never had the opportunity to have it properly. When he was young, Andy (Michael Bierman, Andy at 16) had a few awkward experiences with sex, including one with a girl who wore braces (Marisa Guterman) and another girl who was sucking on his toes (Carla Gallo), resulting in him accidentally kicking her and giving her a bloody nose. After those bad incidents, he pretty much just gave up trying. Of course, the other three feel like it is their mission to get Andy’s first time experience out of the way. He takes them out to a singles bar, where Jay advises that he meet some “hood rats,” a.k.a. drunk chicks that he meets at the bar. Andy tries to follow Jay’s advice, but he ends up in a car with a drunken woman named Nicky (Leslie Mann, Apatow’s real life wife) who almost kills him on the way back to her place. Cal advises that Andy should talk like David Caruso in the 1995 movie Jade and talk to women by repeating everything that she says. This works on a cute blonde named Beth (Elizabeth Banks) that works at the local bookstore, who gives him her number. They try other things to help him meet women. They have him wax his Teen Wolf-like chest hair, resulting in him looking like a “man-o-lantern” (Carell insisted in actually having the waxing woman played by Miki Mia give him a real wax. The much discussed wax scene, where he shouts out “Kelly Clarkson,” is the cleanest thing that he says.) They have him go to a speed-dating event called Date-A-Palooza where he meets some odd women, like a lesbian named Gina (Mo Collins), whose name is pronounced like the female body part, and a woman who accidentally has one of her breasts pop out. They hire a prostitute, who turns out to be a transvestite (drag queen Jazzmun plays the prostitute.) Finally, David brings over his collection of porn to give Andy, but Andy actually ends up watching an old tape of “Everybody Loves Raymond” that was unintentionally left in the porn box. Despite their attempts, Andy manages to find a woman on his own. Trish (Catherine Keener) is a divorced mother of three kids…a 21-year-old son who has his own child (making her a grandmother; he is never filmed or named), a 16-year-old girl named Marla (Kat Dennings) who wants to have sex with her boyfriend Mark (Jordan Masterson), and 6-year-old Julia (Chelsea Smith.) She runs a store across the street called We Sell Your Stuff on eBay, which doesn’t sell anything in the actual store. One day, Trish comes in to Smart Tech to buy a VCR, and Andy charms her. She gives him her card, and he eventually gets the nerve to call her and ask her out. They go out and have a fun time. Andy experiences another weird sexual experience on their first date involving a condom and the meeting of her kids for the first time (they walked in on them attempting possibly to have sex.) She tells him that she thinks that they should wait until their third date to have sex. He decides to propose that they go on 20 dates before having sex, in order for them to get to know each other better (he still hasn’t told her about his virgin status; besides…the proposal takes the stress off of him.) As they go on the dates, they start to fall in love, and he has to decide when and if he will tell her before the dreaded twentieth date. Besides…he always has Paula’s proposal to be sex buddies if he wants.
Apatow co-wrote the movie with Carell, based on an idea that Carell had, and it turned out to be a winning combination. Apatow, who is widely known by geeks like me to be the mastermind behind two of the best TV comedies ever, NBC’s “Freaks and Geeks” and FOX’s “Undeclared,” has a long association with some great projects. He wrote for and executive produced HBO’s “The Larry Sanders Show,” FOX’s “The Ben Stiller Show,” the 1995 movie Heavy Weights, and more. Carell has knocked it out of the park himself more often than not. He first gained exposure as a correspondent on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He landed a memorable role (at least it was memorable to me) on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s NBC show “Watching Ellie,” then he had minor roles in the movies Bruce Almighty, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, and Bewitched, all of which he stole the show. He finally got a lead role in a project, where he headed the cast of the American version of “The Office” on NBC (all you Ricky Gervais fans are going to be mad about this…but I like the American version better.) He has several projects coming up because of his increased exposure, including playing Maxwell Smart in the movie version of Get Smart next year. He deserves all of the kudos.
There are too many great cast members to mention, because they were all hilarious. I’m surprised that Rudd isn’t a bigger star, and Rogan will probably be the next supporting actor to break out into a lead role soon (he acted in both “Freaks” and “Undeclared,” the latter of which he also wrote for.) I don’t know much about Malco (even though I did see him in the title role in VH1’s TV movie “Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story”), but I will keep a lookout for him. Keener was probably the least wacky character in the movie, but that made her the perfect straight woman. She and Carell had some sweetness to their chemistry.
Speaking of sweetness, that is what The 40-Year-Old Virgin is. Despite the title, the movie doesn’t have a one-joke premise. Sure…there are plenty of sex jokes (it isn’t a movie that you should take your kids to see), but it has more heart than most sex comedies you’ll see. I actually thought that his 20 dates proposal sounded like a good idea (I don’t know if I could hold out that long though. Ten dates maybe? Five?) Andy and Trish genuinely looked like they were in love and comfortable around each other, which is thanks to the great acting. Despite their misguided attempts, Andy’s friends were also loyal (again…thanks to the acting.) Apatow may have been directing for the first time, and Carell may have led a movie for the first time as well, but after this movie, they will no longer be virgins to theatrical success.
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