Rom-Com Review: "The 40-Year Old Virgin"

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Goaded by his buddies, a nerdy guy who's never "done the deed" only finds the pressure mounting when he meets a single mother. Starring Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Catherine Keener and Seth Rogen.
3.5

Rating: R
Length: 116 minutes
Release Date: Aug. 19, 2005
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Genre: Comedy / Romance

Writer and director Judd Apatow has a tendency to reuse the same actors in his hit comedy films, and fans can trace that back to "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Released in 2005, the film came about after Apatow worked on the television shows "Freaks & Geeks" and "Undeclared," and he made it clear that he wanted to bring his unique style to the big screen. The film still ranks as one of the highest-grossing comedies of all time.

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" tells the story of Andy (Steve Carell, "The Office"). Andy is something of a nerd who seems happier spending time at home with his collectibles than with members of the opposite sex. Working in an electronics store, he finds himself surrounded by men who love nothing more than talking about women, and while he tries his best, he really can't keep up with their comments or references. This leads to a hilarious scene in which the men meet for a poker game and Andy tries valiantly to describe how a woman's breasts feel.

Though Andy seems comfortable with his lot in life, his friends don't feel the same way after they eventually learn of his problem. They go out of their way to help him land the perfect woman and finally lose his virginity, but they don't take into account Andy's personality. They send him to singles bars and try to teach him what to say and how to act around women, which makes him do even worse.

A comedy is only as strong as its leading man, and this comedy luckily stars Carell. Best known at the time for his work on "The Daily Show" and the film "Bruce Almighty," Carell had his first starring role in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." It's almost hard to believe that he would start his longstanding role on the television show "The Office" later that same year. As Andy, he almost comes across as a sweet child stuck in a man's body. Some viewers might find it hard to believe that the actor playing this sweet and often shy character is the same man who played Michael Scott on television.

While Carell is perfectly cast as Andy, it's the supporting actors who really shine. Jane Lynch ("Glee") pops up as Paula, Andy's supervisor at work, who lets him know that she's more than willing to take his virginity and be his sex buddy. Paul Rudd ("Admission") turns up as David, a man who can't seem to let go of his ex-girlfriend. Also in the film is Seth Rogen ("Knocked Up") playing Cal, a man who clearly doesn't understand women but doesn't have a problem dispensing advice.

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" has some moments of true comedic gold, and many of those scenes showcase the women Andy attempts to bed. One woman invites Andy home with her but then reveals that she has a breathalyzer on her car and can't pass it on her own. As funny as that scene is, the speed dating scene is even funnier. Carell does a great job of shooting out one-liners and keeping up with the comments that come back to him. Apatow encourages his actors to ad lib on set, and he did an amazing job assembling a cast that could take his words and put their own twists on them.

Carell's Andy eventually meets Trish (Catherine Keener, "Enough Said"). Trish works at a local shop and seems overtly interested in Andy. Almost from the moment the two come on screen together, viewers can see fireworks. Keener often stars in serious dramatic films, but she brings an acute awareness to each of her roles. In this film, she works hard to show that Trish not only wants to take his virginity but wants to form a lasting relationship as well. Though her scenes aren't nearly as funny as the ones set in the electronics store, she brings some heart to the film.

While some viewers will want to see more of that heart, Apatow constantly breaks up the sweet and sometimes romantic moments between the two with brash comedic scenes between Carell and the other actors in the film. Most viewers will walk away remembering those moments, including the scene that takes place in a salon with Carell getting waxed, rather than the sweet and romantic moments between Carell and Keener. Those who watch the film knowing that it's an Apatow comedy will understand why the romantic plot takes a backseat to the comedy.

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" was a box-office hit that garnered an overseas remake and a spoof remake here in the United States. Ranked as one of the top comedies of all time, it's the type of film that fans will watch repeatedly and still find themselves laughing every time.