A Long Time Coming
To be honest, when "The 40 Year Old Virgin" first came out, I was not overly interested as I had never heard of Steve Carell, the star, and thought it would be just another juvenile gross out comedy. But after reading numerous rave reviews I thought I should give it a go, and I am glad I did. Yes, the humour through out "The 40 Year Old Virgin" is at times very juvenile, but it is unlike your run of the mill gross out comedies, with the main emphasis of the humour coming from scenes that poke fun at the central characters inexperience, rather than just some gross out joke.
For 40 years Andy Stiltzer (Steve Carell - Bewitched) has led a solitary life, not through lack of trying to date women, but after earlier embarrassing failures he has never found a partner or had sex. But after accidentally letting his secret slip, whilst enjoying an after hours game of cards with his work colleagues, his work mates set about the task of aiding Andy to lose his virginity. Although his friends have enough personal issues of their own, they set about the task in hand and plunge Andy into a world of night-clubs and speed dating, hoping to teach him how to score.
The actual storyline to "The 40 Year Old Virgin" is pretty plain but has an unusual set of circumstances. Watching a movie about a bloke and a woman fall in love would seem pretty run of the mill, except when the man is an inexperienced 40 year old, who is totally inept at dating women. In fact the story line is basically only there as a vehicle to tie in a series of gags, and it is these which are a huge part of what makes "The 40 Year Old Virgin" such good fun, the other being the characters.
Right from the opening scenes, "The 40 Year Old Virgin" sets the pace for the humour as it pokes fun at male issues, such as Andy trying to go to the toilet whilst still having his morning glory. This sort of humour continues through out the film with references to not being able to pee in public and the hilarious condom scene, or should I say several condoms, not to mention the hilarious but painful chest waxing scene. Although some of the humour and language may be close to the edge and even may be offensive to some people, I personally loved it and found it a change to some of the more extreme, but popular, gross out comedies that have dominated our screens for the past few years.
What you may think is that from all the jokes which poke fun at male issues, that this film would be aimed at a female market, but in fact it is definitely aimed at both sexes, with men cringing but also laughing at issues prevalent to themselves.
As previously mentioned, the characters in "The 40 Year Old Virgin" are a big part of what makes this film so good. Take the lead character of Andy Stiltzer; played by Steve Carell, this is a man for the whole of his adult life has been set in his boring ways. In fact, the most entertainment he gets is collecting action figures and making a salad. But once his secret comes out, his nice little world is thrown into chaos as his friend's aid him in losing his virginity. To his credit, Steve Carell, who also wrote the film, has really brought the character to life and after appearing in several supporting roles, has shown he has what it takes to lead from the front.
Then you have his work mates, David played by Paul Rudd who is struggling to get over the split from his ex even thought it was over two years ago. Next you have Cal, played by Seth Rogen who although works with Andy is also a writer and enjoys too much pot in his spare time. Finally you have Jay, played by Romany Malco who is a complete womaniser who has continually cheated on his girlfriend. These three characters are brilliant; as not only are they well portrayed by the actors but add real diversity to the film.
To finish up with, you have Andy's major love interest, Trish played by Catherine Keener, and to be honest, this is my only criticism in the character side of things. Keener does a good job of trying to bring to life quite a flat character, but sadly fails, which I put down to the writing of her character rather than her performance.
"The 40 Year Old Virgin" is directed by Judd Apatow, who also co wrote the film with Steve Carell. Apatow has done a magnificent job of keeping the film moving at a very good pace, although it does start to drag in the final 30 minutes. My biggest criticism is the enjoyable but strange song and dance routine that plays out at the end and through the credits; it does seem a bit out of place. On top of this, with the film running just short of two hours, which is not normal territory for a comedy, it is just slightly too long and shows in the final 30 minutes which do seem to drag. The film would have definitely been much better if some of the needless padding had been removed from the second half of the film and had lost about 15 minutes in length.
What this all boils down to is that I definitely give "The 40 Year Old Virgin" a huge thumbs up. Compare to many modern comedies, it is a breath of fresh air, as it pokes fun of sexual issues in a non-disgusting manner. On top of this, Steve Carell has shown that he is a great comedy talent with the ability to lead from the front. Although I feel the film is slightly too long, and have only one quibble with the characters, I really can't criticize the film and it will remain one of my favourites for a very long time.