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"The 40-Year-Old Virgin"

Directed by Judd Apatow.
Written by Judd Apatow and Steve Carell.
Starring Steve Carell and Catherine Keener.
Release Year:  2005
Review Date:  8/21/05


After Mr. Stokes, Chuck and I walked out of the theater this afternoon, we talked about how comedies such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" have to involve some amount--however small--of sappy time, because by its nature these sophomoric comedies have to be able to draw the ladies in for the film to make back its budget.  Given that it had to have at least a little, I have to give this one credit:  by minimizing the amount of suffering a man in the audience has to do as our hero inevitably falls in love or gets married or eventually realizes that his man-whoring days must end, both the men and the women can leave the theater as happy people.

I am convinced this is what ruined "Wedding Crashers" (well, that plus its ridiculously long running time and the still-baffling decision to not give us any outtakes).  I'm also convinced that this is why I liked "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" more than "Wedding Crashers"--this film is strictly about a 40-year-old dating loser named Andy (Steve Carell) that, along with the help of his co-workers, tries to get help in the dating world by any means possible.  No heavy messages, no long "moments" where Andy figures out that it's not about sex, it's about love (although the movie has to have a couple of these scenes, right?)...just Andy being incredibly uncomfortable addressing, watching, thinking about or having anything to do with sex for a solid two-hour movie experience.

The heart of it all is twofold for me.  First, Steve Carell.  He was far and away the best part of "Bruce Almighty", thanks to that duddering sequence where his rival anchor character had nothing intelligible to say for a solid 30-second laughfest.  He was great as Everyone's Favorite Idiot, Brick Tamland, in the legend-grows-with-every-passing-minute flick "Anchorman."  Even though I haven't seen it, Carell is reason enough to watch the NBC redux of "The Office"; if he's anything like the boss on the English version of that show, Carell will knock it out of the park.  In this current work, Carell is so good you almost want to say he's brilliant; Chuck went so far as to say that Carell is now at the point that Will Ferrell was at until recently, when Ferrell went off and made "Bewitched", that Woody Allen movie and that cameo in "Wedding Crashers" all within in a year.  Carell does it all, with the facial expressions and the lines that come from a script he co-wrote himself.

The second thing that is so beautiful about "The 40-Year-Old Virgin"?  The supporting characters are fucking fantastic.  The MVP is clearly Gerry Bednob as Mooj, the Middle Eastern salesperson working in the same store as Andy that drops so much random profanity that you start laughing the second he pops onscreen.  Between Mooj and Andy's three main co-workers, those guys are almost enough to carry their own movie.  And, because they are given throwaway scenes of their own in-between the developing relationship between Andy and a woman (Catherine Keener) that owns her own retail store, the Andy co-workers give us continuous laughs late in the movie just when you think it will have to get too heavy.  Like, you know, when Cal (Seth Rogen) and David (Paul Rudd) play Mortal Kombat while dropping lines on each other about why each of them acts like they might be gay. Or, when Andy's store manager Paula (Jane Lynch, from "Best in Show") offers to be a fuckbuddy for Andy's continuing sex education.

Oh, man...there was just so much good stuff here.  Maybe the most frightening sequence, when Andy's buddy Jay (Romany Malco) takes Andy to a waxing salon to get his chest hair removed, was my favorite.  Or maybe the part where Jay talked about how it's written into the guy DNA code to "fuck drunk bitches."  Or maybe it was when Andy sat down at home to watch porn for the first time, while Lionel Ritchie's "Hello" was playing in the background.  Or when Andy tries to convince people that he knows what breasts feel like by comparing it to holding a bag of sand.

Of all of that, though, it is probably the ending of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" that I liked the best...once you see it, you'll know why, but it's a perfect capper given the madcap styling of the film up to that point.  Overall, the movie was solid through and through, and I'm glad I saw it ASAP!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09