The Longest One-Joke Movie Ever
Yes, The 40-Year-Old Virgin abounds with raunchy juvenile humor, but its “R” rating warned us about that. However, nothing alerted unsuspecting viewers concerning its torturous repetition -- unless the MPAA is using “R” for “repetitive” now. Watching three men trying to help a middle-aged colleague lose his virginity may be funny at first, but scene after scene of the same theme is like singing “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” so many times you want to yell “Stop!” at the top of your lungs.
It’s not for lack of talent that this lengthy (almost two hours) comedy left me cold. Steve Carell, who plays the title role, has been one of my favorite comedians ever since seeing his work on TV’s The Daily Show. But here, little is asked of him except to be dorky. Although his character is 40 years old, he rides a bicycle to work, doesn’t know how to drive a car, and lives alone -- with a massive collection of valuable action figures. After a series of bad luck attempts to have relationships with the opposite sex, he’s given up dating entirely. When his three misguided colleagues (Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogan) find out about this, they humiliate him at work, but then go all-out on a campaign to remedy their co-worker’s “horrible” condition.
With friends like these, Andy (Carell) doesn’t need enemies. He’s persuaded to pick up a drunk woman (Leslie Mann) who drives like a maniac and vomits all over him. He’s told to have the hair on his chest removed in order to appear sexy, which he tries to do while screaming out obscenities. He’s advised not to call Trish (Catherine Keener), a woman he really likes and who seems interested in him, until he’s practiced sex with others. And so forth ad nauseam.
Finally, Andy decides to make friends with Trish anyway and the film perks up a bit. Carell and Keener share a couple of tender scenes together as their characters get to know each other. Romance blooms, and there’s a chance Andy will no longer be a virgin. “Hallelujah, this film may end soon,” my husband whispered to me. Unfortunately, not soon enough was the case here. Andy’s three helpers needed rehabilitation, and more sex education was on the way.
Surprisingly, The 40-Year-Old Virgin delivers a decent message, especially in an age of constant media exposure to sex. Like finding a beautiful pearl inside a very ugly oyster, the film suggests that it pays to wait until you find someone you love and who loves you.
(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “R” for pervasive sexual content, language and some drug use.)