There is no way around it: it has been a long, agonizing summer foreveryone. As if recent events both here and abroad haven’t been enough todeal with, the selections of box-office wannabe behemoths have not deliveredon their mega-marketed promise. This season, laughter seems to be the bestmedicine to what ails us, starting with last month’s Wedding Crashersand now continuing with another better-than-expected ribald adult comedy,The 40 Year Old Virgin.
Steve Carell, who stole last year’s Anchorman: The Legend of RonBurgundy and is currently starring in the American remake of TheOffice, delivers a terrific, star-making turn as Andy Stitzer. Andy is a40-year old male who works in an electronics retail store, lives alone in anapartment adorned with videogames and collectible toys, and has never hadsex with another individual. While he seems okay with his shelteredexistence, Andy’s fellow co-workers and friends, David, Cal and Jay (PaulRudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogen) are not, and try their best to help himlose that pesky sexual albatross once and for all.
The 40 Year Old Virgin is reminiscent of the raunchy sex comedies that filteredout of Hollywood in the 1980s. Much like those films were, this film is ascoarse as they come, which makes it not recommended for the easily offended.At the screening I attended, I counted four or five folks walking out aboutten to twenty minutes into the film.
But if you think that this is merely Porky’s Reborn, think again.What sets The 40 Year Old Virgin, much like the recent WeddingCrashers, apart from the rest of the pack is that those who worked onthe production actually made an effort to raise the material above itsvulgar origins. Director Judd Apatow and screenplay co-writer (and star)Carell give us characters that come across more as everyday people than yourstandard comedy clichs, and put them in situations that, for the most part,are believable. On top, no pun attended, of getting great mileage out of itsmain concept, Apatow and Carell also make some incisive and uncomfortablytruthful (but very funny) observations on the current state of dating.
A great supporting cast also goes a long way in making this film awinner. Rudd, Rogen and Malco are excellent as Andy’s “support” group offriends (Malco is the standout of the trio). Catherine Keener is also quitegood as Trish, the woman who catches Andy’s eye and may turn out to be “TheOne”, while Jane Lynch, Gerry Bednob and Shelley Malil are all great intheir brief roles as Andy’s fellow employees.
Sometimes, the biggest winners come out of nowhere. In July, the superbdocumentary March of the Penguins, erm, marched into cinemas to wincritics and audiences over, followed by the very funny WeddingCrashers. You can now add The 40 Year Old Virgin to this list oflate-summer movie sleepers. This is, without a doubt, the funniest movie Ihave seen in the past few years.