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The 40 Year Old Virgin

The 40-Year Old Virgin

What She said:

She

The He and I recently reviewed the movie Ted, which is supposed to be a raunchy, gross-out comedy with some heart.  However, I was a bit disappointed in the film, and struggled to figure out exactly why.  I think it came down to a couple of things, one of which being that the jokes were a little hit or miss.  But in my mind, I kept comparing it to another, older raunchy comedy that I thought hit the mark a lot better, The 40 Year Old Virgin.  This inspired The He and I to sit down and re-watch Virgin so we could get a sense for what works so well with that movie.

The 2005 film starring Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, Catherine Keener, and Jane Lynch, chronicles the life of 40 year old Andy.  Andy is an upstanding citizen.  He works hard at his job at a local Best Buy-style mega electronics store, leads a clean life, and has his own place.  But as the title of the movie implies, he’s not exactly experienced with the ladies.  In fact, he’s entirely inexperienced.  Andy’s home life is one of a super-nerd.  He spends his free time playing video games, marching around his apartment playing the baritone, and collecting toys.  A band of bro co-workers, David, Cal, and Jay, realize Andy’s blight with the hunnies and decide to make things right.  This means dragging Andy out to nightclubs, trying to set him up random women, and taking him speed dating.  Andy legitimately craves female affection, but as he’s aged he’s lost his motivation.  While David, Cal, and Jay’s help isn’t exactly fruitful, he received the injection of spirit he needs to pursue a nearby business owner, Trish.  The movie is filled with on-point comedy, outrageous personalities, and the warmth of a good heart.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

So, what works so well about The 40 Year Old Virgin?  First of all, the comedy, particularly in comparison to Ted, is totally spot on.  Yes, it’s raunchy and there is a lot of vulgar language in the film, but Virgin stays on the right side of that fine line between raunchy and offensive.  This was one of Judd Apatow’s earlier efforts wearing the hats of screenwriter, producer, and director, and you can tell that he put a lot of care into the plot and dialogue.  Andy’s character is actually very well developed, which makes the viewer genuinely care about him.  He’s that little brother that you want to see grow his wings and enter the world of adulthood.  You’ll also find yourself feeling very protective about him, at least I did.  I began to become slightly offended when his friends tried to change him too much.  But that’s a key to this movie.  You see, we get to see almost every character grow and change in some way.  Everyone is initially flawed, although not so much so that they become wholly unlikable.  And as the movie progresses, and his friends try to help Andy, he, in turn, also helps them to move forward with their lives.  Conceptually, it’s pretty deep stuff for this type of comedy, but it’s masked so well that you may not even notice it.  It all just comes together to create solid plot and character development in Virgin. 

If I have any gripe about the movie, it’s that the later portions of the film begin to slack off in the comedy department.  This is clearly intentional, as Apatow starts to bring the heart of the story into focus.  Where I can honestly say that I didn’t really love any of the characters in Ted, I enjoyed every one in Virgin.  Andy is adorably clueless, David is an emotional wreck who cannot get over a very past love, Cal is a stereotypical stock-room pot head who is starting to wonder if his best years are behind him, and Jay is a player to the core, shaken when he realizes that his old ways aren’t going to fly anymore.  Watching David melt-down over the store continually playing Michael McDonald on the for-sale TVs is hilarious, yet relatable.  So, for such rich characters, I’ll give up a little of the humor toward the end of the flick.

Apatow has been involved with movies like crazy over the past few years, with many of his more recent turning out to be duds.  But with The 40 Year Old Virgin, he applied a high degree of care to the story, which is ultimately why this film is a winner.  You might just want to watch who you view it with…not one I’d like to share with my parents.

Thumbs up.

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What he said:

He

Andy Stitzer isn’t your average guy. He lives alone, his interactions with his coworkers are often awkward, collects toys, enjoys video games, and watching Survivor with his elderly neighbors is the closest thing he has to a social life. That’s really not what sets him apart from other people though.  You see, Andy (Steve Carell) doesn’t have much luck with the ladies. In fact, he never has, if you catch my drift.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Nobody knows his secret until it comes out at a poker game with some coworkers. His coworkers, Jay, David, and Cal don’t normally invite Andy to hang out, but when they need an extra player for game, they decided to give him a chance. While discussing their latest conquests, Jay (Romany Malco) begins to suspect that Andy might be a virgin, so he comes right out and asks him. Andy vehemently denies it, but the cat is out of the bag. The guys realize he’s just trying to save face. His awkward behavior suddenly makes sense to them. He’s not a serial killer – as some suspect – he’s a 40-year old virgin.

After they get some razzing out of their systems, the guys actually want to help Andy find a lady friend. They all have different styles and put Andy through the ringer. They bring him to bars, clubs, and also trick him into trying speed dating.  They even suggest he wax his chest to increase his sex appeal. This has got to be one of the funniest scenes in the movie. If you watch the behind-the-scenes, you find out they really waxed his chest.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Their advice is all over the map too. David (Paul Rudd) is a sensitive guy who can’t get over his ex. He keeps telling Andy how great being in love is, some nonsense about combining souls when making love, and all kinds of other creepy stuff. Jay is the exact opposite. He has a girlfriend, but has all kinds of ladies on the side as well. His advice to Andy is to get as much “experience” as humanly possible. Cal (Seth Rogen) is a major pothead and thinks Andy should just act cool, even if he’s nervous as hell. His advice is to play it cool, while somehow being a jerk, but not so much of a jerk you offend the ladies.

Their plans are thrown a curveball when Andy meets somebody he actually likes. Trish (Catherine Keener) is an entrepreneur who works in a nearby location. When she comes in seeking advice on electronics, Andy helps  her out and the two hit it off. The guys keep trying to steer him towards the dating scene, but Andy really likes her. Things get tricky between the two when it comes time to do the deed. Andy has to figure out how to explore this unfamiliar territory, but also make sure he doesn’t scare Trish off.

The 40-Year Old Virgin is a real interesting movie. It is raunchier than hell, but somehow manages to have a real big heart. One minute you are laughing your ass of at some terribly vulgar joke, while the next you find yourself legitimately rooting for Andy. I love a good comedy. Some of the funniest movies I’ve seen over the years have virtually no story though. Movies like Anchorman (review here), Step Brothers (review here) and Caddyshack are absolutely hilarious, but they are totally off the wall. The storylines are insane  if there even is one. But Virgin manages to do the impossible. It creates a very raunchy, but funny, movie with an enjoyable storyline. That is kind of a rare thing in movies of this variety. Most of the more off-the-wall comedies simply embrace that aspect of the movie, but focus very little on the story.

If you are easily offended, avoid this one like the plague. There’s a vulgar sex joke every 5 minutes. But if you don’t mind some raunchy humor, check it out, just as long as you don’t watch it with your kids/parents.

Prognosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written on January 6, 2013.