Be a man 

A review of The 40-Year-Old Virgin

click to enlarge It hurts so good: Steve Carell gets de-furred in The 40- - Year-Old Virgin.
  • It hurts so good: Steve Carell gets de-furred in The 40- Year-Old Virgin.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (R)
Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Tinseltown

Beneath bushy brown eyebrows, Steve Carell's face can convey hundreds of precision punch lines. As the clueless boss in the hit television show The Office, his jokes often revolve around a quick camera pan to his squirming mug.

It's unfortunate and ironic that Carell's debut performance as a movie star, in a film he co-wrote, is lacking his comedic signature.

Instead, Carell plays a kind of straight man among stooges, the butt of everyone's jokes because he's made it to age 40 without getting laid.

And even though The 40-Year-Old Virgin packs a bevy of laughs, it is just another riff on an increasingly familiar Hollywood theme: Everyone secretly wants to be a frat boy.

Films like Old School and Wedding Crashers have trampled the trail on which this film treads. Hollywood execs must love the format because it appeals to teens and juvenile baby boomers alike. The common attributes: women as hook-up targets, racial minorities as farce and homophobia as a kind of pleasing pastime.

That aside, as far as shallow summer comedies go, Virgin is fun to watch. It contains the same type of charmingly revolting gags that made Bad Santa a winter classic.

We meet Andy Stitzer, played by Carell, a dork who spends his spare time painting action figurines, collecting Aquaman statues and destroying video game aliens while sitting on his joystick-enhanced throne. The only non-work friends we see are the retired couple who live upstairs and whisper, "That boy needs to get laid."

Things change when Andy pulls up to his job at an electronics retail store on his bicycle. There he meets up with the trio of co-workers -- David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco) and Cal (Seth Rogen) -- who act like friends despite their belief that Andy may be a closet psychopath or queer.

One night while playing cards with Andy and Mooj (Gerry Bednob), a belligerent Pakistani man whose only purpose in the film is to shout, "Fuck you!" at the top of his lungs, the three buddies decided to gang up on Andy.

Though he tries to bluff, Andy's secret -- that he's spent four decades on Earth sans coitus -- slips out. From that point onward, they try whatever they can to initiate Andy into the fraternity of true horn dogs.

Jay, in a comic parody of a black playa, advises Andy to "try some wrong, dog," by sleeping with as many women as he can before finding one he likes. Cal advises him to just ask women questions because "they don't care what you think."

The boys lead him to a nightclub, where he is surrounded by drunken women, one who nearly vomits in his mouth.

Even Andy's boss, Paula, gets in on the action, offering her services as sex buddy in a mock-horror sequence.

Andy initially is swayed by the free advice, but then turns against it when he finds Trish (Catherine Keener), a divorced mother. As the chaste relationship between Trish and Andy deepens, Andy becomes more serious and passes up a few opportunities for raunchy sex. To pump up the humor level, David and Cal engage in a new game called, "I know you're gay because ..." where they both take turns filling in the blank.

And that's all there is, a bunch of surface-level gags and a generic plot about choosing the right path despite temptation. It might provide a satisfying summer laugh, and clearly it's doing well at the box office. But anyone hoping for a truly good movie will leave the theater empty-handed, and, most likely, empty-headed.

-- Dan Wilcock


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