Tuesday, August 16, 2005

40 Year-Old Virgin

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (Director: Judd Apatow)

Apatow's claim to fame is being one of the creators of much-loved, low-rated TV shows "Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared." This is his feature debut, and he co-wrote the screenplay with star Steve Carell.

It's amazing to me the conservatism that creeps into Hollywood sex comedies. Last month's Wedding Crashers began as a let's-screw-everything kind of story and then changed into a love-first-then-sex movie. The same sort of ideals were pushed in the American Pie films as well. The marketing for these movies sort of hoodwink the audiences into thinking they are going to see Porky's or something. But marketers have gotten smart with these types of films--they include themes for the ladies, and that's how you make a smash.

The themes are strongly present here in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and this time, as much as I liked Wedding Crashers, it's more believable. Steve Carell plays the title character Andy Stitzer, a man whose apartment is adorned by tons of action figures still in their boxes, a video-game chair, and who works at an electronics store in the anti-social inventory section, completely removed from contact with other human beings. Almost. Co-workers David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco), and Cal (Apatow regular Seth Rogen) need an extra poker player an invite the withdrawn Andy, and when the talk turns to sex it is apparent through his descriptions that he's never had it. So, the co-workers make it their mission to get him laid. Throughout, Cal meets possible easy-lays like the drunken Nicky (Apatow wife Leslie Mann), and the freaky Beth (superhottie Elizabeth Banks), but he meets "the one" in Trish (Catherine Keener, not playing a bitch at all).

This movie is hilarious. Carell is the perfect guy for this, an actor who has gotten all sorts of critical acclaim for his small roles in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman, not to mention his great work on "The Daily Show." He plays it perfectly--he doesn't know what he's doing but in turn he shows that no one else does, either. Apatow has always shown an affinity for his "loser" characters, not even allowing them to be portrayed as losers but as everyday people who just never got into the social atmosphere that peers and the media make out as important. They have their own environment and can live happily in it, and don't need the popular kids. Also, I will make mention of Seth Rogen in particular. This guy has the best lines, but he is ably supported by Rudd and Malco. Also, as much as I have liked Keener in the past, I'm glad she's not playing an unlikable person here. She's shown she can play that, now here's something different. A lot of Oscar pundits raved about her performance in April's The Interpreter, but she didn't have that memorable of a character--if she has a chance in Hell of getting nominated, it should be for this and not that.

This is a bright shining star in 2005. Go see it.

5 Comments:

At 8/17/2005 09:39:00 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Hey guys,

remember my "movie theatre luxury box" idea? Check this out:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/17/movies/17movi.html?ex=1281931200&en=d2e6a3c7cb86d954&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

 
At 8/17/2005 10:31:00 AM, Blogger MaraJade said...

"a man whose apartment is adorned by tons of action figures still in their boxes,"

Oh no! You're supposed to buy two - one to take out and set up and one to keep in its box in an air tight safe. . . Right?

 
At 8/17/2005 12:33:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Yes--although in this movie you'll see that the unopened action figure box is symbolic of well...his...you know...

 
At 8/17/2005 12:58:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

This hardly has anything to do with the movie, but I'm reminded of Toy Story 2, which so cleverly worked the whole "buying toys but leaving them in the box" as a conflict plot point. That movie was sort of making a sly statement about what we've come to stand for in America when so many toys are "collected" more than "played with."

Not that I don't have my precious McFarlane hockey figures pristinely preserved in their packaging. I'm just saying...

 
At 8/21/2005 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

That's interesting, Paul. I think the best idea is to bring back the old glamorous movie palace from the past. Every time I took anyone (including Chris) to the Louisville Palace theater, a wonderful old movie-house that now hosts concerts as well, they love it. If you improve the rather drag theaters of today, I think many will come just for that. You can't get that at home.

 

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