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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The 40 Year-Old Virgin (review)

The problem with all the “humorous” stereotyping — guys who own action figures are dorks! — and all the erection jokes and all the “naughty,” “sexy” language and all the sweaty desperation on the part of, no, not the titular character (heh: I said “tit”) but the filmmakers (one of whom plays the titular character; Steve Carell cowrote the script) to MAKE YOU LAUGH! is that this isn’t, at its heart, a comedy. It’s an achingly sad tale about loneliness and hopelessness and the drive to connect with another human being that thwarts so many of us — whether we’re virgins or not. But the genuine pain of something that touches so many of us on such an intimate level is barely hinted at here. True, Carell (Bewitched) and director Judd Apatow (the other screenwriter) do make the point that random hooking up is hardly a better option than complete abstinence, as Carell’s 40-year-old virgin Andy Stitzer, egged on by his horndog fellow electronics-store employees, stumbles into an actually emotional relationship with lovely, electric Trish (Catherine Keener: The Interpreter), in which they mutually decide to get to know each other before Doing It. But the film expends so much effort making fun of Andy that it ends up undercutting the sweet humanity that’s trying to bust out.

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MPAA: rated R for pervasive sexual content, language and some drug use

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
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