The 40 Year Old Virgin
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Judd Apatow
scr Judd Apatow, Steve Carell
with Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, Gerry Bednob, Shelley Malil, Loudon Wainwright
release US 19.Aug.05, UK 2.Sep.05
05/US Universal 1h56

Drink up: Carell, Rogen, Rudd and Malco

carell keener rudd

25th Shadows Awards
Catherine Keener

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The 40 Year Old Virgin Essentially another goofy boy-man comedy (see Wedding Crashers), this stands above the rest with a hilarious script, sharp performances and a willingness to tackle taboos. It's also a delightfully engaging love story.

Andy (Carell) is a 40-year-old stock supervisor at an electronics store, happy in his orderly life with his videogames and collectible action figures. Then his colleagues (lovelorn Rudd, quirky Rogen, rakish Malco) find out that he's never been with a woman. So they set out to rid him of his pesky virginity. Along the way, he meets a Trish (Keener), who's more than happy to develop a relationship without sex for a change. But not forever.

This could've easily descended into a sniggering, puerile farce, but Apatow and Carell deftly steer it along the razor edge of likeability. Yes, it's pretty ridiculous, and some scenes veer into offensive machismo (the "I knew you were gay because" running gag is vile), but the characters are played with understated charm and extremely quick wit. And there's real chemistry between all of them.

While keeping us laughing, the cast and crew play the story straight. This raw, natural tone infuses even the film's most outrageous sequences--the chest-waxing mixes authenticity and humour Jackass-style, and the sex clinic workshop touches on real insecurities, even as it maintains a wildly comical tone. And along the way the script genuinely taps into issues of masculinity, obsession and attraction. There's even a strong comment on virginity--both Andy's adult variety and as a parent worries about a teen child.

All of this in a thoroughly adult comedy that, refreshingly, isn't toned down for the PG-13 brigade. Apatow knows enough as a director to get out of the way of his actors, and he infuses the film with a wonderful retro quality through the vintage action figures, electronic gadgets, clever references, classic movie clips and musical touches (Michael McDonald?). It is rather long for a comedy. And if we begin to worry that the, ahem, climax can't possibly live up to the hype, we haven't counted on Apatow and Carell's blissfully absurd imagination.

cert 15 themes, language, vulgarity, sexuality 23.Aug.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The 40 Year Old Virgin Laurie T, Minneapolis: "I expected more slapstick, juvenile type humor, and was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it did seem a bit long - especially when we went to the 10pm showing after walking around at the mall and ended around midnight. But the end was a pleasant surprise. An enjoyable late night at the movies." (4.Sep.05)
2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall