Thursday, September 01, 2005

The 40 Year Old Virgin

I cringed in the first scene when "Andy" walked across the scene with an erection. "I just don't see why they have to do that," said my movie-going friend when we had dinner after the movie. I told him I figured it set up the movie, and made the point succinctly that here is a guy who doesn't have any physical problems, per se, even though we all know immediately what his "problem" is. Damn. I hate having to defend erections.

I kept cringing, over and over, throughout the first hour of this movie. And then I started to relax and enjoy it. The 40 Year Old Virgin is really two movies, appealing to two different kinds of audiences. The first hour is for your very young 35-year-old men, who will really dig the over-the-top gross humor, you know, the guy-talking-to-earthy-guy kind of thing and forcing our virginal friend into compromising situations. They mean well, you know how it is, but it's going to go splat! And then we laugh.

And the second half is no-no-women-like-that-she's-the-one-for-me. It turns into a romantic comedy, and all's well that ends well.

Except that this comedy/romantic comedy has more going for it than a formulaic, two-part popcorn movie. First you have the writing team of director Judd Apatow and actor Steve Carell. And then you have the acting and great middle-of-the-road look of Steve Carell. Plus his three buddies -- they may not light up the screen, but they set up the humor. Paul Rudd -- we've admired him for years -- never trades in on his great looks, and does "odd friend" really well. Some of the funniest lines lie with Paul's delivery, especially when his character "David" talks about his short-lived disastrous love affair with Amy, a woman who changed her phone number and email address just to get rid of her two-week date. And Romany Malco is Andy's African-American coworker Jay, who tries a bit too hard to be cool. The rest of the cast is just as good -- Seth Rogen as the third tattooed/weird friend and Jane Lynch as the stereo store boss who offers certain services to Andy to help him out -- and there are many more. Steve Carell has surrounded himself with funny people in funny situations, with just enough occasional red herrings to make it all come together.

The great part is when, about three-fourths the way through the movie, you find that you care about all of these people, particularly Andy. Some of his best scenes occur with the daughter of the woman he's dating (platonically - so far). She's real in that painful teenage way. She thinks he's a dork, yet comes to appreciate him.

My personal guess is that most people in the movie theatre were brought in by a well-placed ad showing Andy having his chest hair removed. Very very funny, and very real. Apparently Steve thought it would only look real if they showed his chest hair actually being waxed off. Ouch.

Thumb's up for The 40 Year Old Virgin. You may cringe a bit at the language and hair removal, but you'll enjoy the movie and these people.