By Sarah Carlson, Arts Editor
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
3 stars (out of 4)
Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogan; Directed by Judd Apatow
Rated R (for pervasive sexual content, language and some drug use)
“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”
– Almost Famous
Andy Stitzer, the title character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, played by The Daily Show’s and Anchorman’s Steve Carell, is a middle-aged loner working in the stock room of a electronic media store, content to spend his nights playing video games, singing karaoke in his living room and admiring his hundreds of collectible action figures, all sealed in their original packaging. And yes, you guessed it – he’s a virgin.
Needing an additional player for their in-store poker game one night, Andy’s co-workers David (Rudd), Jay (Malco) and Cal (Rogen) reluctantly invite him to join. Throughout the evening, Andy tries to play it cool, making random jokes to fit in and pretending to know what sex is like, but his new friends aren’t fooled. Once they discover his virginity, their new mission in life is to relieve him of it.
With this basic and predictable premise, one would expect this film, lumped into the category of sex comedy amid the likes of the American Pie series, to be nothing more than crude, distasteful and immoral. Fortunately for the viewers, writer and director Judd Apatow (creator of the short-lived but highly acclaimed TV show Freaks and Geeks) instills heart into his creation and produces a sweet tale of love and growth, despite some of its raunchiness.
Romance enters Andy’s life when a customer, Trish (Keener, Being John Malkovich), gives him her number. His friends discourage him from calling her, but once he does, he soon finds happiness and a person who not only appreciates his eccentricities but has some of her own.
Andy and Trish’s romance is touching and withstands believable obstacles, when, for example, Trish turns out to be not only a mother but a grandmother. After their first date, Andy and Trish decide to take things slow, making a pact to not have sex until their 20th date, all the while Trish is still clueless of Andy’s virginity. The time spent together and with her children brings the two together and demonstrates the importance of building a relationship outside of the physical. When Trish’s teenage daughter, Marla, wants to start taking birth control, Trish steps in and refuses, stating that it’s probably time for the family to start going to church. Andy takes Marla to a clinic to learn more information and sticks up for her when her peers discover her own virginity. She guesses Andy is in the same boat, and the example of abstinence that is being set by him and her mom makes an impression.
Even at age 40, Andy is still growing up. He’s been hermetically sealed inside his childhood just as his collectible action figures are in their boxes. His dorkiness has nothing to do with his virginity but really his fear of experiencing new things. He’s pure of heart, and his character is almost opposite of his three friends; even though they are more experienced than him, they have significantly more problems and heartaches.
The film isn’t perfect and should not be seen by those easily offended by sexual situations and humor, or on, heaven forbid, a first date. Nevertheless, The 40-Year-Old Virgin is crude, touching and hilarious, and so far one of the funniest comedies of the year.