“You know what, I respect women. I love women. I respect them so much that I completely stay away from them.”
Oh, what a line. I have avoided this for too long.
I’ve seen some Judd Apatow products and have missed out on others. From Happy Gilmore and The Cable Guy in ’96 to Superbad and Pineapple Express, Apatow’s filmography is full of comedy hits. He’s striven away from the director’s chair and writer’s table as of late but something tells me a laugh artist like Apatow gives more input as a producer than the average.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin is objectively funny, demonstrating an understanding of what makes people laugh along with the importance of theme. This isn’t just about Andy being an inexperienced socialite. It’s also an ongoing commentary about what makes relationships and love as a whole so gosh darn difficult. Yes, we get to poke fun at Steve Carell’s Andy being so socially anxious he might be a serial killer, but there’s a conversation going on between characters and the audience about why it’s so hard to find someone to truly connect with, too. Is it all about sex? Are you just supposed to listen to their whims? What are dudes supposed to do to get chicks?
It’s a film begging for a bro night in that regard. All the questions you’ve ever asked your friends about how to get the girl’s number are probably intertwined with the screenplay. As Andy is driven from coworker to coworker, all of whom are offering him different tips and tricks, we get to watch him bounce from awkward interaction to bumbling idiot like a volleyball on a beach, all whilst learning a little more along the way.
All of these characters carry redeeming qualities and are just watching out for their brethren. They all, for one reason or another, are at a standstill, working at a tech store with no definitive career path and lady problems up the wazoo. Chicks are hard and despite the image they’re providing, that they are just looking to get in bed with some honeys, these dudes, especially Paul Rudd’s David and Carell’s Andy, can’t help but admit they’re looking for a lasting relationship. Underneath the macho persona are real people looking for real connections. They find a woman that they’re magnetized by only for that woman to disappoint them and for them to go back to the adages of “relationships are for losers” and “bros before hoes”.
It’s a rather refreshing turn for a comedy. I’ve mentioned it in quite a few reviews now but there are a lot of comedies that just don’t shoot for that type of underlying narrative. Apatow, at least here, is very direct with his conversation.
There’s nothing really wrong with Andy. He’s a nice guy. He’s just…bland. The way he converses, the way he dresses, the way he lives his life, it’s all lacking energy and intrigue. Andy is not an enticing prospect. He’s not sexy.
Yet, as the movie goes on and his peers give him a kick out the door, we realize Andy is more well-suited to a relationship than anyone else. He’s responsible, understanding and has a great if not awkward sense of humor. Yes, he rides a bike to work at a tech store, which again, isn’t sexy. Yes, he plays a lot of video games and collects miniatures but Andy is someone who is able to hold a relationship in high esteem and take the sex out of it, something that makes relationships a lot easier to deal with. At one point, a one line monologue is delivered between Andy and the audience amidst an argument with a character:
“Why…everything’s always about sex.”
Andy, despite all of the quirks and eccentricities, comes to a realization about love, something that for all their experience, no one else in this movie seems to grasp. Culture and society has portrayed the beef cake and swimsuit model as the ideal relationship material but in actuality, Andy is what that perfect partner looks like, a guy with oddities that at the end of the day really aren’t that big of a deal. If you just accept them, Andy is the most mature guy on the screen.
When Andy’s potential partner is revealed to have kids, his coworkers tell him to get out of Dodge. Andy doesn’t see the big deal.
When Andy invites her on a date and to pick him up at his place, Rudd’s David and Seth Rogen’s Cal flip out, telling him his place looks like birth control and they need to wipe the place. When the lady comes hoping to learn about Andy, she leaves disappointed.
Even with all of the advice Andy gets, he finds the most success in being himself, a simple yet impactful motif.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a rated-R film with an adolescent lesson, a learning even we as adults need reminded of from time to time when we enter the realms of nightclubs, bars and date nights: Be yourself.
A cast list including Carell, Rudd, Rogen, Romany Malco, Catherine Keener, Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch, Leslie Mann, Kat Dennings and cameos from Jonah Hill, Kevin Hart and Mindy Kaling is more than stacked, providing us with the necessary sidebars and interjections along this tour of human compatibility. This was a true pleasure to watch.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Conjuring, Sinister, Olympus Has Fallen, The Cable Guy, The Cabin in the Woods)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Wind River, Tommy Boy, Death Note, True Memoirs of an International Assassin, The Great Wall)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Power Rangers, Underworld: Evolution, Batman & Robin, Bloodsport)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-Rise, Most Likely to Die, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Crow: City of Angels, Centurion)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage)
My score for The 40-Year-Old Virgin: 86.
At times, The 40-Year-Old Virgin gets too dumb for its own good, but remains a brazen punch of truth to a viewer expecting cliche-ridden sex comedy. I love Steve Carell in this role and really need to get around to watching The Office one of these days. More of Judd Apatow’s filmography is on my watch list.