Judd Apatow has a strong foothold in the world of comedy. His name has been attached to numerous highly successful comedy films and his unique brand of improvisational humor style has turned several of his chosen actors into huge stars like Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill. Everything for everyone started with this film about the very clear and unapologetically bluntly titled “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin.” I remember my first time seeing this movie when my parents and I were sitting at an indoor water park lodge and we decided to order this movie on demand since all of us had been curious to see it. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly what we thought it was and while it was highly awkward to watch this in the same room with my parents, we could tell this was a comedy we wouldn’t forget about anytime soon.
Like I said, the title sums up the premise pretty clearly: during a poker game with his friends (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd), Andy (Steve Carrell) accidentally reveals that he’s still a virgin at age 40. His friends then attempt to help their friend lose his virginity with disastrous results. Things change when Andy meets a middle aged mother, Trish (Catherine Keener) and though cautious at first, Andy feels she may very well be “the one” to help break his virgin streak. If there’s one thing Apatow knows how to write, it’s grossly inappropriate sexual comedy with a perverse flair that continues to disturb and intrigue audiences to this very day. You almost forget that the point of this movie is to deal with someone’s obvious sexual issues because you’re too busy getting lost in up roaring laughter over the ridiculously raunchy dialog that follows.
In a sense, one could call this a romantic comedy, but I always liked to think of it as a more groundbreaking raunchy comedy given how dirty things get (both verbally and physically). This is a movie about a messed-up group of people who don’t know how to function at a sexually mature level without things dissolving into a gross out party that just cracks me up every time I watch it. Sometimes I laugh so hard at this film, I have to go back and watch it again because I missed a one liner or hilarious remark that I didn’t catch the first time around. While this story doesn’t exactly scream boldness or complexity, it’s the cast and their interactions that really sell the material and take it in directions you never thought possible.
Many of the comedians in this film have gone on to become bigger names in media, but here they were just starting out, and looking back on it now it’s amazing to see the kind of collaborative talent that was all housed under one picture. Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, Leslie Mann, Elizabeth Banks, Mindy Kaling, Kat Dennings and more. In regards to the actual relationship/romance between our titular virgin and his hot grandma date, it’s actually done very well. Keener and Carrell have this old-yet-young-at-heart kind of weird relationship that feels just awkward and absurd enough to be felt and perceived as something real. They’re a dysfunctional couple unable to function by normal standards and the build up towards the perceived inevitable outcome is a hilarious journey that delivers the feels as well.
Oddly enough, my biggest problem with the film is the A list of comedy stars this film has for its supporting cast. Basically, they’re too good! I often forget this is “Carrell’s film”. He is our star and it’s his story we’re supposed to be following, but more often than not, it’s his entourage of Rudd, Rogen and others that steal the show. I remember their lines more than Carrell’s because they’re too funny to forget for even a minute, and if you do actually forget, another gut busting scene involving these comedic titans will quickly remind you how easily overshadowed Carrell is by his cohorts. This is by no means a discredit to them or Carrell’s performance; it just feels a little like they’re inadvertently stealing the spotlight because of their raw talent that just can’t be ignored and it ends up making us forget about the plot in the first place.
Overall, “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin” is unforgivably dirty, raunchy, sexualized and too funny to be ignored or forgotten. Its star power and comedy genius are awe inspiring and it’s easy to see why so many of these actors got catapulted into such high caliber careers by the comedic credence of this film alone. If the only flaw is that the supporting cast outshines the star, then that’s a pretty good flaw to have. This is a brilliantly cast film with an admittedly oversimplified plot, but it works, and above all else, it’s one gut-bustlingly, jaw-achingly funny movie that should not be missed.