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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 31.54%
Just Average: 4.7%
Pretty Crappy: 2.68%
Sucks: 7.38%

12 reviews, 77 user ratings

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40-Year-Old Virgin, The
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by David Cornelius

"Steve Carell, ladies and gentlemen. Steve Carell."
5 stars

Anybody could have made this movie. But few people could have made it good.

I’m talking about “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” starring Steve Carell, who co-wrote the script with director Judd Apatow (“Freaks and Geeks,” “Undeclared”). I keep thinking about the many ways this movie could have gone so very wrong, most of them involving a former cast member from “Saturday Night Live.” But here, Carell and Apatow manage to pull off that rarest of feats, creating a sex comedy that’s sweet, intelligent, and actually very, very funny.

In a recent online discussion between several critics, Scott Weinberg asked why it’s so hard to make a sex comedy that actually works. The general consensus seemed to be that Hollywood’s preference to market to teenage boys, topped with their tendencies to hire filmmakers who never grew out of their teenage mentality (namely, dick and fart jokes coupled with a general fear of the opposite sex), means the public will get an onslaught of increasingly brainless projects. Plus, Hollywood is lazy. It’s easy to film Rob Schneider getting his genitals stuck in a farm animal. Creating intelligent stories and complex characters with real emotions? That takes work, man.

More importantly, sex comedies that are worth anything are the kind that take risks by revealing the pure reality of sex, warts and all. (Although hopefully warts are not involved in your case, but that’s another story.) Juvenile comedies take a cartoonish look at the subject; the less real it is, the safer it is for both audiences and filmmakers who may squirm at the notion of being confronted by their inadequacies in the bedroom. As Collin Souter so eloquently put it, “you sometimes have to confront the subject head on and draw the comedy from the cold, hard truths about sex.”

Which is exactly where Carell and Apatow go in their film. Consider the scene in which Carell’s character, Andy Stitzer, is confronted with a potential first sexual encounter. Hoping not to reveal his sexual innocence to his girlfriend (Catherine Keener), he refrains from asking for help with putting on a condom. Another movie would have taken this moment and reduced it to a series of gags involving Andy getting “comically” injured. Sure, there is one gag in which Andy obviously hurts himself, but it’s not the cheap slapstick it could have been. There’s a purity and an honesty to this moment: all modern men have come to a point in their lives when they’ve had to confront a condom for the first time. That Andy is not a teenager adds to the humor, of course, but it does not force the punchlines. What we are watching in this scene is a child in a man’s body attempting to come to terms with something as bizarre as a prophylactic.

I would say that this is the funniest scene in the film, but I would be wrong. That distinction goes to the soon-to-be-infamous chest waxing scene. Convinced by his friends that women will be more attracted to him if he sports a bare chest, Andy agrees to go through the torture of having his ample hair (seriously, it rivals the chest of Robin Williams) pulled out through hot wax and tape.

The magic of this sequence is that none of it is fake. That’s Carell’s real hair being pulled out, that’s his real blood we’re seeing rush to the surface. This bit was captured in one take, and it left Carell stuck with the silliest assortment of body hair for what I imagine must have been months. You think losing weight or shaving your head is the mark of a quality actor? Try walking around with a “man-o-lantern.” That’s dedication, my friends.

In fact, “Virgin” has Carell to thank for its entire success. The former “Daily Show” cast member - who stole scenes in “Bruce Almighty” and “Anchorman” and who made the American remake of “The Office” actually work - now proves that he’s the funniest man on the planet, working his way through a series of embarrassing sexual situations and coming out a champion. Above all, he’s a master of verbal comedy; just listen to his line deliveries, which sing in their perfection.

But he’s also something quite unexpected: a leading man. Carell brings a lovable charm to his role, and the script ensures that underneath the snarky one-liners and ridiculous situations, there’s a genuine human being. We take to the character of Andy immediately and find it incredibly easy to root for him throughout the story. Carell refuses to deliver a one-note, one-dimensional character here. He gives Andy depth, reality. The humor, tenderness, and ultimate joy of this film would not have worked at all without Carell in the title role.

Carell does not carry the film alone; he’s accompanied here by a supporting cast that’s on his level. Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, and the indispensable Paul Rudd play Andy’s friends/co-workers, three guys who are all as clueless about sex and relationships as Andy - only they’ve had experience, which means they get to dish out the advice. Keener, meanwhile, provides a lovely turn as Andy’s potential girlfriend; she’s so endearing in the role that we begin hoping for a happy ending the moment she walks on screen. And Kat Dennings adds a nice touch as Keener’s troubled teenage daughter who forges a reluctant friendship with Andy; their scenes together are refreshingly sweet. The movie also finds space for familiar faces Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, and Leslie Mann. All work brilliantly with each other and off each other.

While watching “Virgin,” I was originally put off by the way the script follows a fairly standard formula - boy meets girl, boy loses girl, audience hopes for boy and girl to reunite. It seemed a cheat to being a formulaic concept into such a smart story. But I realize, in retrospect, that I had it backward: Carell and Apatow weren’t shoving familiarity into their clever idea, they were infusing cleverness into a familiar plot. This is a Hollywood romantic comedy as filtered through the comic genius of Carell and the astute awareness of Apatow. They use the formula but do not depend on it. There’s no desperation here, as there is in so many other romantic comedies. There’s only charm, joy, and laughs. Many, many, many laughs.

Not even an ill-fitting (albeit funny) final joke that comes out of nowhere and goes against the reality of the film (you’ll know what I mean when you see it) can stop “Virgin” from being a true work of brilliance. This is a sex comedy that actually knows what it’s doing, but more than that, it’s an honest coming of age film. That Andy is decades past the usual age for such a thing only makes the story richer. Andy Spitzer is an unforgettable screen character, and his creators, Carell and Apatow, are undeniable talents.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12748&reviewer=392
originally posted: 08/20/05 18:27:06
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell funny flick 4 stars
4/15/14 Charles Tatum Funny, but VERY overrated 4 stars
8/11/09 sandeep good 3 stars
6/16/09 Sterling chest hair scend was hilarious 4 stars
5/05/09 sandy freeman stupid stupid stupid. garbage film. 1 stars
3/29/09 Anonymous. hilarious and almost perfect-3.5/4 :D 5 stars
7/18/08 Shaun Wallner Had some funny parts. 3 stars
3/08/08 jbubbles A wonderful comedy with a lot of heart. Steve Carell is so loveable. 5 stars
3/02/08 ladavies Very funny, but plot drags. 4 stars
3/02/08 SamanthaPayntr so funny! Steve Carell is always really funny! and i love Seth Rogan! 5 stars
12/16/07 gr Brilliant! 5 stars
12/14/07 Pamela White very cute but not one for my library 3 stars
8/15/07 Ashley uggg A-MAY-ZINNGGG 5 stars
6/20/07 Erin People who are so negative about this are only trying to sound smarter than they really are 5 stars
6/08/07 Dave sucked ass 1 stars
6/01/07 ES A good comedy, some great funny moments but the song at the end was too over the top 4 stars
5/08/07 David Pollastrini didn't think much of it. 2 stars
5/06/07 fools♫gold I didn't like it, but props for the three times it made me die from laughing! 2 stars
4/19/07 Chris Redmond The funniest, most compassionate American comedy since Meet the Parents. 5 stars
3/10/07 Steve Maybe my IQ is a little too high for my brain to allow me to enjoy this shit for a movie? 1 stars
2/13/07 The chode Fucking hilarious, the unedited version is 100000 times better. 5 stars
2/12/07 AJ Muller I pity the miserable people who don't find this utterly hilarious. Best comedy in years. 5 stars
12/12/06 Dude Gross and Unfunny. It Sucked so much ass 1 stars
9/30/06 Tamara D. Leonard Disgusting drivel. I carried my father with me, and I was so embarassed I wanted to hide. 1 stars
7/26/06 Agent Sands Carell is one of the new generation's great comedians. And it's a well-made film at that. 4 stars
7/19/06 Danielle It was okay. 4 stars
7/16/06 EZ never laughed the whole damn movie!!! 1 stars
5/10/06 millersxing Sympathetic over-the-hill dude scores for the 1st time. Uncomfortable and lol funny. 4 stars
4/24/06 MP Bartley Great jokes, underpinned with a genuinely sweet sensibility. Carell is terrific. 4 stars
4/10/06 Sully f*ck your Grandmother, then ask her for a check for $12........ 5 stars
3/11/06 Dillon Hilarious. A rare comedy where funny dialogue replace sight gags 5 stars
3/02/06 Anthony Feor Funny once, after that, nothing 3 stars
2/26/06 Steven Lewis It had it's very funny moments but some were just blah.. 3 stars
2/19/06 Tanya I laughed until I cried 5 stars
1/21/06 Crackhead How can anybodey like this, you have to be a virgin to like this, this movie sucks 1 stars
12/29/05 Simon Specific scenes and dialogue are quite funny, but that's all;drawn-out plot and bit clichéd 3 stars
12/29/05 Taylor Fladgate An instant classic. Learn the punch lines now for your New Years parties. 5 stars
12/28/05 Phil M. Aficionado Lots of kudos deserved, but the overlong and atrocious ending hurts the film, big. 4 stars
12/09/05 Doc Hollywood Absolutely Crap. Bastard copy of Japanese Densha Otoko idea. Humour forced, NO PLOT! 1 stars
11/22/05 13-year old viewer of this film If they keep makin' horror flicks like this, I'll probably be a 40-year old virgin too! 1 stars
11/09/05 rachel very funny and entertaining. worth watching 5 stars
10/27/05 PAG pretty funny 4 stars
10/26/05 Michael Kondo this was pretty good, not great but not bad 4 stars
10/26/05 deadwiz This movie was hilarious! I can't wait for the dvd! 5 stars
10/11/05 Josh Swanson Drop-dead, laugh your ass off funny!!! Way better then Wedding Crashers, which was goodtoo 5 stars
10/08/05 Rosa Fleur It was 'ow you say pretty damn good! I would of had sex with 'im! Poor bloke! 5 stars
10/03/05 bgu nhko bjhýnhý 5 stars
9/28/05 Sarah was ere my name is sarah darymple i lost muh virginty to muh hand 1 stars
9/23/05 Someone who'd mistakenly heard this film was a "comedy" Watching this movie is like having someone piss on your brain, only not as rewarding. 1 stars
9/19/05 ERIC ROBERT WILKINSON Keener steals the film as a sweet foil for the virginal hero (Carell)! So hilarious! 5 stars
9/16/05 Laura Lee Macleod childish, silly, juvenile but oddly watchable 4 stars
9/07/05 Marcia Refreshingly "R"; perfect casting, acting, set dec. Consistent laughs and sweetness. 5 stars
9/04/05 Indrid Cold When a movie like this is the best comedy of the year, we're REALLY starved for quality. 3 stars
9/02/05 KR Jin: You know how I know you're gay? You don't like this movie. 5 stars
8/29/05 Jin further evidence of the dumbing down of America. 2 stars
8/28/05 bullit16 Not quite TSAM, but pretty damn funny 4 stars
8/28/05 KCobain The humor frustrating and tedious. In poor taste. 2 stars
8/28/05 Dan Very good. Best Comedy of the year. Loved the old Indian guy! 4 stars
8/25/05 Caiphn Best Romedy I've ever seen. 4 stars
8/24/05 Lisa Perfect combination -- hilarious and smart, with heart, and an extremely talented cast 5 stars
8/23/05 Lauren this movie was absolutely HILARIOUS I almost peed my pants! 5 stars
8/23/05 Trevor Freakin genius!! We quoted the movie the ENTIRE next day! 5 stars
8/22/05 Alyson I literally got a head ache from laughing too hard. I just might have to see it again. 5 stars
8/22/05 Boy Oxford Constantly hilarious, great acting from everyone 5 stars
8/22/05 Mr. Eff Great movie. Funny through the whole two hours. 5 stars
8/21/05 Uncle Salty FUCKING OUTSTANDING 5 stars
8/21/05 jcjs wow, gees, ooooh, as funny and clever as 'Sideways' if not more so...great 5 stars
8/21/05 SD So good you'll need to see it again 5 stars
8/20/05 Sharline It was hte funniest movie I've seen all year!! I Loved it!! 2 thumbs way up!! 5 stars
8/20/05 Jim The Movie Freak Maybe not the "Best" film of 2005 so far, but my personal favorite. 5 stars
8/20/05 ajay very funny, best movie of the summer. 5 stars
8/20/05 Titus Makes a couple low-brow punches that could be left out, drags a bit. Otherwise: great! 4 stars
8/19/05 buford hilarious. it's a shame that dumb america will probably not see it. 5 stars
8/19/05 Kristina Williams Kelly Clarkson! 5 stars
8/19/05 Danny Pesses Best comedy I've seen in a VERY long time! 5 stars
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  19-Aug-2005 (R)
  DVD: 22-May-2007



Directed by
  Judd Apatow

Written by
  Judd Apatow
  Steve Carell

  Steve Carell
  Catherine Keener
  Paul Rudd
  Seth Rogen
  Romany Malco
  Elizabeth Banks

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