DVD Review Of
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 5/14/06
The 40-Year-Old Virgin is one of those independent films that comes along, every so often, and becomes a hit. A few years ago it was My Big Fat Greek Wedding that was a surprise hit, and a few years before that it was The Blair Witch Project. This film is superior to both of those earlier films, and has more in common with another sleeper film that predated both of those films, 1998ís Office Space, which was one of the first films to flop theatrically, yet become a big hit on the then-new DVD format. The 40-Year-Old Virgin shares a similar sensibility toward the dullness of the work environment (this time a Circuit City/Best Buy like electronics store vs. a computer programming company, but its satire of the workplace is dead on.
The difference between The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Office Space, however, is that the bulk of the newer film focuses on the personal lives of its lead character and his co-workers David (Paul Rudd)- whoís stalking his ex-girlfriend, Jay (Romany Malco)- a black, bald Lothario, and Cal (Seth Rogen)- an ugly, bearded wannabe novelist, who make it their mission to get him laid at any cost. Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell, of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and the NBC tv show The Office) is a collector of Ďaction figuresí from the 1970s and 1980s (such as The Six Million Dollar Manís boss, Oscar Goldman), avid Survivor watcher, along with an old black neighbor, has a framed Asia rock poster, a ton of video games, and has somehow never managed to get laid in his four decades, although heís come close. Any male who has pined for females that he never got to be with will be able to relate to Andyís dilemma- if not to the extent of Andyís angst, certainly the gist of it. His co-workerís advice ranges from the bad to the ridiculous, as each of them could easily be termed loser, as well. He agrees to go out with his pals, and ends up being puked on by a gorgeous, but drunken blond named Nicky (Leslie Mann), who nearly gets them both killed with her driving. He then hits on Beth (Elizabeth Banks), a sexpot at the local bookstore, and succeeds in getting her interested. Thatís when he meets a sexy and kind divorced grandmother named Trish (Catherine Keener), who runs an EBay store at the same mall where Andyís store is.
Eventually, they fall in love, but not before many great scenes and lines that will be quoted thirty years from now, such as when Andy takes Trishís daughter to a sex clinic for birth control and meets loser parents; fends off the advances of his libidinous boss Paula (Jane Lynch), determined to take his virginity before anyone else, who breaks into a Guatemalan love song to seduce Andy, and declares, ĎIím discreet, and Iíll haunt your dreams;í a chest waxing scene; an Aquarius musical number; an ĎI know youíre gayí sequence; and a scene where Andy nearly seduced by Beth after a fight with Trish, but she ends up preferring a detachable shower hose to his penis.
What makes this film work is the script by Carell and first time director Judd Apatow, who while a filmic novice, made his name in television, helming such cult classics as Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared, and The Ben Stiller Show. Itís a smart script that could easily go overboard in Porkyís-like antics, or become a sweetly vapid mainstream film. The lead performance by Carell is also a wonderful job, the kind that never gets nominated for an Oscar, even though there are millions of Andy Stitzers out there, and few of the freaks and losers whose portrayals usually get Oscar nods. Thatís the point. Andy could have easily been a parody of a loser and freak, but the script makes him likable and balanced. Of course, one must suspend disbelief some times, for no business in this day and age operates as over the top as the electronics store they all work in, where sexual humor, the use of racial epithets, and unprovoked cursing, are tolerated- even enjoyed, but, thatís why itís a movie, and not real life. And, the truth is that most people act exactly like these employees do, only not as often and as openly. The guys at the electronics store arenít the male chauvinist pigs of Feminazi Ďserious artí films, nor are they the wimpy suckers of chick flicks.
The extras go even far more over the top and raunchy than the film, and most of the deleted scenes, many of which are extended versions of whatís in the film, are hilarious. The commentary is ok, never being too serious nor fellatric, although you do wish a bit more of how the film was made came through- a minor quibble. What is evident is what a good time the actors had in making the film.
The DVD I got was the unrated version, seventeen minutes longer than the theatrical version, and this probably consists of some topless scenes and racier jokes, but either way would not seriously affect the artistic success of the film. Itís a chick flick for guys, in a sense, yet better for it. Watch this film at least once every year or two, and itíll never get old, for there always have been and always will be Andy Stitzers. Thatís a damned good thing!
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