Movie Poster
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Judd Apatow
Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, Mo Collins, Kat Dennings
116 min.


Hard as you might find it to believe, there is a smart, charming, adult comedy hidden behind the erection jokes and the urine gags. This is largely due to the sympathetic lead performances by Steve Carrell and Catherine Keener. Together they accomplish the astounding task of portraying their characters as human, with real plights and real feelings, not merely as the butt of the jokes and the butt of the romance.

The supporting cast is largely there to remind us that this is a sex comedy not a romantic comedy. Which, surprisingly, is fine. It is funny. It hardly takes anything away from the story, and eventually even helps it from being just another formula piece. Granted there are formulas at work here, but there are enough different, nearly conflicting formulas at work that it almost seems, gasp, fresh. It's not Meg Ryan. If it's still a step short of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it is a much shorter step than could have reasonably been expected.

There are definitely two opposing forces at work here. There is a lot of money to be made from the white males who think Old School is a classic. There was also an opportunity to make a really good movie; that they didn't quite get there isn't as disappointing as it is exciting to have been able to see the potential. This split can most probably be attributed to the two writers: Steve Carrell's history is in The Daily Show and the American The Office. Judd Apatow's is in Anchorman and Kicking and Screaming. Not that I'm putting blame on anyone. The two sensibilities worked remarkably well together. There were only a few jokes that I'd count as detriment.

The ending isn't Beau Travail, it isn't even quite Napoleon Dynamite, but damn if it isn't excitingly close to being really good. However, and like the film as a whole, it would have been even funnier if it hadn't been quite such a joke.

Pat Jackson