Virginity, in some times and cultures a sign of sacred innocence, but in today’s Western consumer society more of a stigma, something you are ashamed of. And especially if you are a man, a grown man. Andy Stitzer (played by Steve Carell), the title hero of “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, is such a hopeless case. At 40, he is no longer a sex-hungry teenager (although his room, full of collectable action figures and computer games does give that adolescent impression), but an ordinary, introverted man who has lost his chances and resigned himself to a sexless existence. Andy doesn’t really need it. It is especially his colleagues at the electronics store Smart Tech who try with all their might to force him into a normal sex life. However, those colleagues are hardly able to maintain a functional relationship themselves: depressed David (Paul Rudd) has still not processed his ex after two years, player Jay (Romany Malco) is actually very insecure and the fat, alternative Cal finds the love really comes with one of Andy’s freaky cast-offs. Of course, the motto is stay yourself, because after all the weird advice from his colleagues / friends, it is the real, virgin Andy that beautiful Trish falls for.
The greatest merit of “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is that the theme is treated in an honest yet comical way. Andy comes across as incredibly sympathetic, which is of course primarily due to the up-and-coming talent Steve Carell, who also wrote the script together with first-time director Apatow. For example, it is extremely touching to see Andy cycling, with a helmet on and one trouser leg still in his sock. But also his room, decorated with care by the set decorator K.C. Fox, his clothes, his shyness and just his hair, all make that you think this is a nice man. He deserves to be in a relationship and have sex, but you also want him to stay the way he is: the eternal virgin. However, that’s not the aim of the movie, so Andy has to go through some funny situations, including a bloody resin treatment (which Carell really seems to have had) and a speed dating session.
Actually, “The 40 Year Old Virgin” has everything it takes to be a hilarious film, but as a spectator you are not constantly laughing. This is mainly due to the real nature of the film, which director Apatow wanted to stimulate by having the actors improvise. The inevitable consequence of improvisation is that not every sentence is funny. And the scene in which the actors suddenly give a rendition of “Hair” (the musical) is not very funny anymore, despite or perhaps because of its high degree of absurdity. Although the film does have a retro feel and the director was inspired by R-rated films from the 70s and 80s, the atmosphere of ‘Hair’ and the interpretation of it is so completely different that it really is completely separate from the rest. from the movie. In addition, Catharine Keener (known from Being John Malcovich, among others) is not the former person to play in a light-footed comedy.
Steve Carell is a potential new Jim Carrey, although (even in the movie “Bewitched”) he appears more restrained than his colleague with the stretchy face. The character Andy really comes to life for the viewer and most people will certainly have to laugh at the film every now and then. It’s a shame, however, that “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” which is so refreshing that it shouldn’t be placed in the same league as “American Pie,” does not seem to fully utilize its full comedic potential due to the improvisations. Charming film, undoubtedly, and funny, that’s for sure, but it could have been a bit funnier.