Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The 40 Year Old Virgin and the drive-in

Before I discuss this week’s review of The 40 Year Old Virgin, let me praise the most American of movie going experiences—the drive-in. I decided to go to the Admiral Twin to see the movie and from the retro commercials; the cars streaming by on the neighboring freeway; the stars dotting the blackening Tulsa night sky; the movie on the massive, peeling white screen; this is the make-up for the perfect summer movie going experience. If you haven’t been to a drive-in recently—go! I don’t get overly patriotic often but going to a drive-in makes me proud to be an American as this is something only done in the U.S.A.

Now, on to director Judd Apatow’s The 40 Year Old Virgin and what turned out to be an extremely enjoyable movie that had me laughing out loud all the way through it. I'm a huge fan of a couple of tv shows Apatow was involved in--Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared--so I had high hopes for this one. The 40 Year Old Virgin is gleefully filthy and frequently hilarious and is by far the funniest movie of the year.

Steve Carell (Anchorman, The Daily Show) plays Andy Stitzer, a 40 year old electronic store employee who is content to surround himself with time consuming hobbies like collecting toys, playing video games and painting miniatures. He doesn't even drive a car for pete's sake, he likes to bike around town instead. Women do not enter into the equation. In fact, women have never entered the equation, hence the title of the movie.

Stitzer’s buddies at work find out he’s a virgin while playing poker and begin to attempt to rectify the situation by involving him in a variety of schemes that degenerate into comic horror and mayhem that usually sends Stitzer running away in extreme embarrassment. This is good for us as the events are very funny.

Stitzer meets Trish (Catherine Keener) in the electronic store and the two hit it off after some false starts. Trish actually has three kids and is a grandma (a “hot granny” as is said in the film) but this doesn’t frighten off Andy. The film moves forward on a couple of different levels—will Andy ever have sex and what will happen when Trish finds out he’s a virgin.

I expected The 40 Year Old Virgin to be kind of a one-joke pony with nothing but “virgin” related jokes—but it’s so much more than that. The backbone of the story is actually a sweet love story (yes, punctuated with lots of graphic language that might offend some) as Andy is just this great guy—who cares if he’s never had sex. In fact, the film’s message has kind of a pro-celibacy, sex is overrated lean to it that may get lost in all the other dirty shenanigans that occur.

Carell is perfect and believable as a man who has not had sex. He’s part geek, part sweetheart. The supporting cast (Seth Rogan, Paul Rudd and Romany Malco) is also up to the task as the buddies get significant moments in the film to ham it up and act/talk naughty as their romantic lives are too messed up to be giving advice to Andy.

While The 40 Year Old Virgin is not for everyone because of the frank, graphic language (think of Something About Mary only with more cursing), it is still a sweet, charming story filled with memorable characters and is hands down the funniest film I’ve seen this year. And it's even better if you go watch it at a drive in.

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