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40 Year-Old Virgin, The (2005)

R · 116 minutes

Directed by Judd Apatow
Written by Judd Apatow, Steve Carell

Starring
 · Steve Carell
 · Catherine Keener
 · Paul Rudd
 · Romany Malco
 · Seth Rogen


Review by Matt Goodman

The summer rush is finally dwindling down, and it's time for show stealing Steve Carrell to finally get his own starring vehicle. He has long deserved such a gift, after displaying his talents in "The Daily Show" and last year's hilarious Anchorman. Carrell has always been the ace in the hole; the character guaranteed to dig you out of a bad situation with his random humor and ingenious delivery. It's a tragedy that this is the film that Carrell was given to jumpstart his career in the public eye, as the poorly written and overlong script hinders what could have been a clever and concise Hollywood comedy.

 

Smarts

 
 48%

In what is the most audaciously titled film since the disastrous Freddy Got Fingered, The 40 Year-Old Virgin chronicles the exploits of a perfectly happy man named Andy who is convinced by his exploitative colleagues to try and get laid. Andy is a pathetic individual who rides a bike to his job at the Circuit City look-alike electronic store and has surprisingly apt social skills. After he plays cards with his base colleagues, they find out his secret; in forty years of life, the man has never had sex. What follows from here is a mix of gross out comedy, sight gags, and juvenile one liners. This is a crude and crass film that wants to toy with structure and tone more than it wants to jerk its protagonist's emotions around.

The film can switch tonally in a matter of seconds, blink and you may miss it. It does this about four times, and its various personalities start to collide midway. Is this a crude sex comedy or is this a heartwarming study of a relationship? Is this an exercise in loneliness and heartbreak or (my personal favorite) is it a musical? The film doesn’t really know, and the film's director, Judd Apatow, doesn't have the experience or the know how to change his film in a mature and subtle way. The script is actually where the film falters most, for it's not nearly smart enough to handle the charisma of the film's pathetic hero. The supporting characters drag down the film a ton, as they are by no means interesting, and their problems are pathetic teen movie clichés.

Why should I care about a man who sleeps around with anyone he comes in contact with? Am I supposed to be surprised when his girlfriend finds out? Why should I care about a pathetic whiny character who can't get over a girlfriend of four months? The best supporting character here is the man who sits around and smokes pot all day without a care in the world. He's the most interesting piece of the supporting puzzle, simply because he has no problems! All he does is joke around and smoke pot, we are not supposed to care about this character, so he doesn't bring the film down at all.

Carrell does his best to save the film, but it is all in vain, as his performance is really one of the few shining areas of this poor film. His lines are occasionally hilarious, not because of what he says, but because of his delivery. If there is any good that comes out of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, it will be that Steve Carrell gets another job. Hopefully next time, he'll get a competent script to go along with it.

 

Popcorn

 
 60%

In addition to the tonal changes and the poorly written supporting cast, the film is overlong. The jokes become tiresome and plodding, as do the characters who are suddenly getting more and more screen time. As stated earlier, Carrell is occasionally hilarious, the scene where Paul Rudd's character attempts to give Andy his big box of pornography is great, as is the boys' trek to get Andy's chest waxed. The ending is also appropriately hilarious and completely out of left field, I won't spoil it for you.

But sadly, these moments are few and far between, as the film mainly relies upon its juvenile dialogue for laughs. Apatow may have a knack for writing good television dialogue, but the humor in this film is really lacking. And also, the film relies so much upon the way its characters interact with another, if you don't care about them, the film's humor will not click.

Maybe I'm being too harsh on the film, for I did laugh on occasion, and there are many scenes worthy of your money. The film's pacing was pretty abysmal, as the film is a good twenty to twenty five minutes too long in the first place. Apatow should take this as a learning experience, as his work in television obviously proves he has some sort of talent, he just doesn't know quite where to channel it yet. Carrell is the high point of the film, and if you do choose to see this, he does deliver when needed.

 

Final

Rude, vulgar, and relentlessly juvenile, "Freaks and Geeks" creator Judd Apatow's The 40 Year-Old Virgin never really gets off its feet. The film is stuck in a fight with its split personalities, and never chooses which one it really wants to be. The film is also ridiculously overlong, and the supporting cast is cliché and mundane. Carrell does his best to save the film with his typical charisma and random physicality, but he ultimately fails, just as the film does; for its script is not nearly smart enough to keep up with the exploits of the film's pathetic hero. The 40 Year-Old Virgin is a huge disappointment.


924 Words · Published: 24 August 2005

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