Andy Stitzer lives quite happily in the comfort zone of his regimented life. But when he confesses his sexual status at a poker game, it becomes apparent that painful miscues have led to a prolonged virginity. Subsequently, his new-found friends become consumed with getting him laid (after the routinely anticipated humiliation round, of course). Following a sequence of disastrous attempts to find Andy a woman, possible redemption arrives in Trish.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin marks the directorial debut of Apatow, who co-wrote the script with Carell. Under his direction, Andy’s rather unique situation gives rise to a blossoming array of extremely funny gags. The centrepiece is men and their delusion. Yet, though they are foolish, the film empathises with them. As the viewer watches Andy hopelessly making attempts with the wrong women, sympathies become tangible. The good-natured tone of the film smoothes over the aspects of adolescent humour. All moments are relatable, with comedy emanating from the characters’ unenlightened views. Although the film is half an hour longer than it ought to be, there’s a generous supply of irreverence to keep it floating along. Rudd and Rogan make the most of high school insults of the “you know why you’re gay?” variety.
Carell never makes Andy a deficient, pathetic figure and the audience is on his side instantly. He is backed up by a terrific supporting cast who inhabit their characters with emotive intelligence. Rudd, Rogan and Malco are perfect through excellent improvisation; they could have easily been dismissed as misogynistic imbeciles, but are exposed as being petrified of intimacy.
Keener’s plausible character coupled with Carell’s vulnerabilities transforms The 40 Year Old Virgin into a sweet romantic comedy and although the denouement is predictable, it still manages to develop into something completely unexpected. Hollywood has created a warm, intelligent, hilarious comedy that has a thing or two to say about the human condition.