This review has been ‘repurposed’ from my other site, theOneliner.com
Here’s a rarity for you, a major Hollywood comedy that’s riotously funny but doesn’t star some combination of Will Ferrel, Owen Wilson or Ben Stiller. Something is very, very wrong. Despite the absence of the holy trinity The 40 Year Old Virgin, while as straightforward and subtle as a half brick to the cranium rises above what could in less talented hands have descended to another American Pie wannabe to become something rather funny indeed.
You might not know Steve Carell. After departing from the excellent US current affairs lampoon The Daily Show he’s popped up in various supporting bit parts in things like Anchorman, Bruce Almighty, more recently Bewitched and took the lead role in the Yank remake of The Office. On the strength of this outing, you can be fairly sure that you’ll become a lot more familiar with him over the next few years. Putting in a starmaking performance as the titular virgin Andy Stitzer. Warehouse manager at an electronic goods store, as you might expect from the title the last forty years of Andy’s life have past without him ‘getting his end away’, ‘breaking his duck’, ‘sinking his submarine’ or any other euphemisms you may like.
With impeccable nerd credentials, it’s not too surprising that his work colleagues Cal (Seth Rogen), David (Paul Rudd) and Jay (Romany Malco) reckon he’s a little odd, in the ‘likely axe murderer’ sense. Still, when a poker game comes up short on players he’s invited along and his terrible secret is laid bare. The gang take it upon themselves to tutor him in the finer arts of cherry popping. While they’re encouraging him to pick up drunken hoodrats and put suspect moves on strange bookstore assistants a minor complication comes in the form of Trish (Catherine Keener), who Andy takes something of a shine to.
In broad plot terms, that’s about it, and about all you’d expect from what is essentially a throwaway mainstream comedy. More important is the laugh per minute rate, and The 40 Year Old Virgin delivers in spades, shovels and other flat-bladed earth translocation devices. This sort of thing’s typically a matter of personal taste, which is why round these parts of the InterWeb we’re continually baffled by the popularity of garbage like American Pie: The Wedding which we consider as funny as the death of a close family member. What’s clever about this outing is that not only does it do what it does well, it does quite a lot of things.
Aside from the, well, not exactly ‘gross out’ moments but heading that way (at no point is a situation laboriously contrived for a character to eat dog faeces) such as a cringe inducing chest waxing, there’s some completely left-field moments, genuinely great lines peppered with judicious foul language to spice things up, some wonderful subtle reaction work from Carell and even some touching moments means that for once I can say that there’s something in here for everyone without feeling too much like a hack.
Not too sure if there’s any point saying much more about this film. While Carell may stand out, his backup is more than able especially from Rogen and Rudd who capture the regression to adolescence that occurs when men play videogames particularly well. It has perhaps the funniest closing song and dance number ever. It’s deeply funny and highly recommended. What are you waiting for? After all, it’s either this or Red Eye and you don’t look like a stupid person.