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I will preface this review by saying I have never been the biggest Steve Carell fan. I love his bit parts, but seeing him in a lead role after having a start on “The Daily Show” rubbed me the wrong way. Believing that I would hate his writing/lead role debut as much as I do Will Ferrell’s multiple attempts, I shied away from checking the film out. Being that director Judd Apatow’s sophomore film Knocked Up is hitting theatres this Friday, I decided to bite the bullet and finally see if the hype was true. All I can say is that this is the funniest movie I have seen since Hot Fuzz, and that says a lot since most American comedies of this ilk are fart jokes and horrible. The 40 Year Old Virgin is definitely the funniest film of 2005 and deserves all the praise it gets. Everything worked and I was laughing out loud throughout its entire duration, from the opening sequence of Carell trying to urinate to the ending song and dance routine of “Age of Aquarius”—absolutely priceless.

As everyone who owned a tv two years ago knows, this film revolves around Carell’s Andy and his revelation to coworkers that he is a virgin. The film soon progresses with their attempts to give him advice and his journey to get laid and find love in the process. Usually a premise as flimsy as this would not be able to sustain my interest for two hours, especially a comedy because it would be filled with filler gross-out moments that are so random you have to roll your eyes instead of laugh. The 40 Year Old Virgin never has a moment like this at all. Every gag or set piece is true to the story and nothing seems contrived for cheap laughs at the expense of the real story going on. Andy is a dork who has given up hope and decides to play video games and collect vintage toys rather than join the club scene. Although a dork, his coworkers soon find out that he is a funny guy with a lot to offer and they become close during the crusade. The underlying theme of love over sex and the power of friendship are there for sure, but the jokes are what make it all work. The touching moments are never sappy and when the sentimentality reaches the line of cheese, a one-liner or gag is thrown in to keep the pace fast and the story moving forward without pause.

Sure the writing is top-notch. Carell and Apatow have woven together a wonderful tale here. The jokes are continuous and smart. There are bodily fluid moments, but the film doesn’t rely solely on them. Really, though, it isn’t always the script that succeeds, but the actors delivering the words. I can’t think of a better foursome than Carell, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, and Seth Rogen. I have been a Rudd fan forever and he definitely lives up to the reputation; Malco, brilliant in “Weeds,” comes in and uses that role with a bit more everyman insecurity and hits it out of the park. As for Rogen, I haven’t really seen him in anything. Supposedly he was in Donnie Darko, but don’t ask me where. He really shines here and by this performance alone I have made my decision that Knocked Up is my movie choice this weekend and not something more serious and dramatic. Rogen is pitch-perfect in delivery and timing and his facial expressions and body language is fantastic. Mention should also be made for Catherine Keener, an actress whom I am also a big fan of. Her role needs to show her insecurity about dating a “good guy” when she has always gone in the opposite direction. There is the right amount of awkwardness between the two leads, but also a perfect dose of chemistry to make the relationship real.

Every supporting role is great as well and there are too many to name. Let’s just say that I couldn’t believe how many bit-players were played by people I recognized from other tv shows and movies—Carell even gets his wife into the action. With the ensemble assembled and the writing as good as it is, I don’t know why I waited two years to finally experience the phenomenon. Even the soundtrack was mindblowing. Using the songs that are, in the context here, is ingenious. The final song and dance moment had me on the verge of crying and will not be forgotten any time soon. Do yourself a favor and see this film if you have not already.

The 40 Year Old Virgin 9/10

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photography:
[1] STEVE CARELL, PAUL RUDD, ROMANY MALCO and SETH ROGEN in The 40 Year Old Virgin.

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