Universal // 2005 // 116 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Clark Douglas // September 30th, 2008
A comedy about the moments that touch us in ways that we've never been touched before.
"You know what? I love women. I respect women. I respect them so much that I completely stay away from them."
Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell, Evan Almighty) is a nice guy. He lives by himself, he works at a local electronics store, and he spends his nights watching network television programs with his neighbors. Andy is 40 years old, and he has never had sex. It's not like he hasn't tried. It's just that all of his relationships have taken a sour turn before anything exciting happened. One day, his co-workers find out about this, and determine to change the situation. They are going to do anything it takes to make sure Andy gets laid. At first Andy is resistant to this idea but ultimately gives in. One blind date after another fails until Andy finally meets a wonderful woman named Trish (Catherine Keener, Being John Malkovich). Could she be the one?
So, here it is: the film that started it all. When Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin debuted to critical acclaim, it made Apatow an overnight sensation. As I write this, it's only been three years since this film was released, but it seems like ages ago. So many Apatow-produced comedies have been released in that time, while the star value of actors like Steve Carell, Seth Rogen (Knocked Up), Romany Malco (Baby Mama), Paul Rudd (Over Her Dead Body), Jonah Hill (Superbad), and Leslie Mann (Drillbit Taylor) has skyrocketed. It could be convincingly argued that the success of this movie is largely responsible for Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and many others. It has earned a certain place as one of the more important comedies of this decade. But what about the film itself? Does it live up to all the hype and acclaim?
Well, kind of. There are some good laughs, some memorable characters, and a warm tenderness beneath the vulgar surface. Still, I can't bring myself to say that The 40-Year-Old Virgin is anything more than a solid comedy. Isn't that enough? Steve Carell's performance is the best thing about the film. His awkward, shy, socially uncomfortable performance is both delightfully entertaining and quite touching. Just watch the way the volume level of his voice plummets when his sentences wander across dirty words. Andy desperately desires the approval of his sexually active guy pals at work, but gets uncomfortable when actually being forced to deal with any sort of sexual situation. Andy wants the bragging rights of sex, but at heart he's a romantic, not a horny player. Indeed, the romantic portions are what make this an above average film. Carell's scenes with Catherine Keener are honest and funny, providing 10 times as much humor and romance as the standard-issue "romantic comedy."
Though Carell and Keener represent the heart and soul of the film, there are quite a few other performances worth noting here. Carell's entourage of Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Romany Malco all score lots of laughs. Leslie Mann has a deliciously funny scene as a drunk driver, and Elizabeth Banks (Meet Dave) nearly matches her as a disturbingly excitable young lady. The screenplay, written by Apatow and Carell, has an abundance of the sort of witty, foul-mouthed, culturally aware dialogue that the Apatow flicks have become famous for. Apatow does a lot of things right as a director here, perhaps the most notable of which is ending the film with a spot-on musical number.
Both the original theatrical cut and the extended & unrated versions of the film are included here. The hi-def transfer here is solid and pretty vibrant, with a broad color palette being presented very effectively. Blacks are deep and facial detail is strong. Sound is sharp and clean, though I do think that Lyle Workman's score is cranked just a little too high from time to time.
There are so many extras included here. Pretty much all of them are from the previous DVD release, but it's nice to have every single one of them included on this single disc. First up is a commentary featuring Judd Apatow, Steve Carell, Shelly Malil, Seth Rogen, Jerry Bedanov, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jane Lynch, and Romany Malco. Obviously, it's a crowded track, but surprisingly coherent and informative. It's also pretty funny, of course. A full half-hour of deleted scenes are included here. There are also extended versions of popular scenes such as "You Know How I Know You're Gay" and "Date-A-Palooza." "Line-O-Rama" offers Carell offering funny variations on his lines. A four-minute gag reel has a few chuckles. We also get Judd Apatow's video diaries, which run about twenty minutes combined. These offer some laughs, but little insight into the process of filmmaking.
"Waxing Doc" is a three-minute look at the chest waxing scene, while "My Dinner With Stormy" is a two-minute conversation between Seth Rogen and a porn star named Stormy. The latter is very amusing stuff. "Raw Footage" is simply 20 minutes of uncut material from a few different scenes. "Poker Game Rehearsal" is a five-minute table read, and "Auditions" offers the tryout scenes from a few of the smaller supporting players like Jane Lynch and Jonah Hill. A "Comedy Central Reel Comedy" roundtable offers a conversation with all the stars of the film. It runs twenty minutes, but is really a bit too clip-heavy. I assumed that the "Cinemax Final Cut" feature would be a nudity-heavy clip reel, but it's actually just another chat with the cast. A "1970s Sex Ed Film" is very funny stuff, about as cheesy as a block of mozzarella. My biggest problem with the supplements is that they are all presented in standard-def non-anamorphic widescreen. Bummer. The only hi-def exclusive is a "U-Control" picture-in-picture track, which is nice but a bit redundant when added with the rest of this stuff.
There are times when the film tries too hard to cover up its sweet nature. There is a handful of sequences that throw out crass material simply for the sake of doing so, and something feels forced about these moments. Additionally, some plot elements are a bit on the predictable side. For all the originality of the romantic elements here, the obligatory mix-up-followed-by-a-temporary-break-up scene is obnoxiously included.
Don't wait 40 years to see The 40-Year-Old Virgin . Go ahead, try it. It'll be safe, and you won't get hurt. I promise.
Review content copyright © 2008 Clark Douglas; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (Widescreen)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* DTS 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 116 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Extended Scenes
* Video Diaries
* Gag Reel
* 1970s Sex Ed Film