THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN
***1/2 (out of 5)
August 19, 2005
Steve Carell as ANDY STITZER
Catherine Keener as TRISH
Paul Rudd as DAVID
Romany Malco as JAY
Seth Rogen as CAL
Elizabeth Banks as BETH
Leslie Mann as NICKY
Jane Lynch as PAULA
Directed by: Judd Apatow
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I think that Steve Carell is one of the funniest men alive. He was the only worthwhile comedic thing in “Bruce Almighty,” and he really stole the show in “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.” Even this year’s stinker “Bewitched” was partially saved by a cameo by Carell (if you can call an appearance from a relatively unknown actor a “cameo”).
It still seems that he came out of nowhere, at least. Sure, he’s the star of “The Office,” but he’s not exactly leading man material. However, with his unique comic flair and style, he has what it takes to be the lead without being a leading man. Both Mike Myers and Will Farrell before him have found a niche in comedy that allows them to carry the movie without looking like Brad Pitt or fitting into Hollywood’s pre-conceived notion of what it takes to headline a movie.
“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” proves this. After playing second fiddle to people like Jim Carrey and Will Farrell, Steven Carell finally has a chance to shine on his own.
In this film, Carrell plays Andy Stitzer, a dorky loner at an electronics store. He barely talks to his co-workers, so much so that one of them already has him pegged as a serial killer. One night, desperate for a final person to round out a poker game, the guys invite Andy along. During the card game, they discover that Andy is actually a virgin.
As most red-blooded American men would do, they take this as an opportunity to show him the ways of the world. It becomes their goal to get Andy laid, no matter the cost. However, when Andy finally falls for Trish (Catherine Keener), and they agree to stay together by not having sex, things become complicated.
“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” isn’t a perfect comedy, but it definitely has its moments. The rough spots come when it actually starts to tell a story. This is the hardest part of sustaining a one-joke comedy premise. If you don’t believe me, re-watch the movie “Office Space” and notice how the movie just disintegrates whenever Jennifer Aniston comes on screen.
However, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” makes it through the rough spots pretty well. As they used to say in high school sports when you weren’t totally on top of your game, “Good hustle!”
Basically, the warning on this film should be to not expect much of a plot. That’s nothing fatal for a screwball comedy. We’ve been watching funny movies with flimsy plots for decades. It’s the staple of Rob Schneider’s career, in fact.
Carell is hilarious on his own. He manages to carry the weight of the entire film on his shoulders, and that’s a lot to say for someone outside of that leading-man category. A lot of this is also due to an awesome supporting cast, including Paul Rudd and Jane Lynch. Like “Office Space” and “Anchorman,” the heart and soul of this film comes from the ensemble of crazy characters.
The other stand-out performances are by Romany Malco and Seth Rogen, two of Andy’s friends at work. Catherine Keener plays his love interest, and she’s decent. She’s really showing her age and seems a bit uncomfortable in the role, but that helped the quirky character a bit.
Hopefully this film and some success will convince the studio execs in Hollywood that Steven Carell has what it takes to carry a film, and hopefully we’ll see more of him in coming years. As long as he doesn’t get stuck headlining a $150 million action pic, Carell should develop a pretty solid following.
“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” made me laugh, and in the August dog days of summer films, that’s the best you can hope for. But still, the movie’s just about a dorky 40-year-old trying to get laid. If you’re not into those kind of jokes, this isn’t for you.