Saturday, August 20, 2005

The 40 Year Old Virgin

The teasers for this movie are a bit deceptive, and I'll tell you right now that this movie is better than you think. It's about a lot more than some guys trying to get their buddy laid for the first time. This movie could easily have been just a one-joke waste of time, but it's really a neat little film.

I love Judd Apatow. He created one of my favorite TV shows ever, Freaks and Geeks, which - like Joss Whedon's Firefly - slipped through the network cracks, despite being an outstanding show in pretty much every aspect. Apatow has a way of seeing people and loving them, warts and all. And that really shines through in The 40 Year Old Virgin. The key relationship in the movie - other than the obvious romance - is the relationship between Andy (the eponymous virgin, played by Steve Carrell) and his mates at the electronics store. They invite him to a poker game, basically because there isn't anyone else and they think he'll be easy to beat. This is when they find out his secret in a scene of hilarious awkwardness during which Andy tries to tell a fake "sex story" and it's painfully obvious that he has no idea what he's talking about. The guys decide they're going to "help" him, but matters are soon complicated when Andy meets a woman (Trish, played by Catherine Keener) who he thinks may be The One. Not just a woman to sleep with to get his initiation over with, but his Match.

The relationship between Andy and the guys could have been so badly done, but it's very sensitively done. These guys are dealing with relationship issues of their own, and we're made to care about them almost as much as we care about Andy. Their relationship really gives the film its heart. They even have a hilarious Bollywood-style dance number together. This is what American Pie came close to doing, but it didn't quite succeed on the level that this movie does.

The courtship, too, between Andy and Trish is very beautifully done. Andy's quest is not just to have sex for the first time. His virginity is kind of a metaphor. The first time we see his apartment, it's filled with action figures. All of them in their original packaging, because (as we all know) such items lose their value if they've been opened. Andy is just like these toys - he's still hermetically sealed, and it's not just because he hasn't ever had sex. Before the movie starts, he hasn't really opened up to anyone - as a friend or otherwise. He's not living, he's just a man-child sitting in his box, collecting things. Part of his journey is simply coming out of that shell. And part of the message I think the movie is trying to get across is that Andy is not really ready to be with Trish until he's come out of the plastic covering.

This is a funny, smart, and cool movie. I've been a fan of Steve Carrell's since he used to be on "The Daily Show," and I hope that this movie makes it possible for him to do a lot more films.

2 comments:

Kat Coble said...

We saw this yesterday and I absolutely loved it. I wasn't going to see it, because the previews made it looked like a completely different film.

I've been watching my F&G boxed set this week, and was really in a mood for Apatow and Rogan. This was a fantastic film.

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