Leave it to Judd Apatow to take a simple concept you’d find in basically any sex comedy, and add his own original twist on it. But that’s Apatow for you, he knows how to be original. “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is basically like any other sex comedy; a group of guys are trying to get their friend laid. That’s the whole plot of this, but with this basic mundane sex comedy concept, there’s the original twist. Back when Jim Carrey was still funny, this would have been the exact role he’d have chosen, but that’s why I’m a fan of Steve Carrell, because he has pure comedy down to a skill. Sorry Jim.
Andy is a virgin. Andy is such a virgin, he’s practically Mormon, and his sexual identity is discovered after three of his workmates invite him for an off hours game of poker. Andy, a harmless and shy guy, is then taken for a ride by a trio of his workmates whom decide they have to get him laid. One of the main redeeming aspects of “40 Year Old Virgin” is simply that it’s funny. It’s very funny. And you’d have to be inhuman to not even give it the recognition it deserves. As I observed, Apatow takes a simple concept and stuffs it with thick originality, and a cast that is almost out of a dream. Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco, Catherine Keener, what more can you ask for? And all of these fine actors know exactly how to deliver the sharp dialogue that make for some of the most hysterical humor, but they also deliver priceless reactions to the gags including a hysterical waxing sequence, and the many misadventures of Andy to lose his virginity.
But Apatow’s film also has the benefit of sporting true characterization as there’s never a cheap grab for a laugh, nor are there ever reaches for reactions from its audience. Particularly Andy’s three friends whom are entertaining on their own and their willingness to help out Andy make them much more entertaining to watch. These characters are not some pricks taking him for a fool, they’re actually nice guys trying to help him get laid, and they never let up until he comes across Keener’s character. The combination of Rudd’s deadpan quips, Rogen’s quick wisecracks, and Malco’s unabashed charisma make them some of the best characters written as only Apatow can, and they’re fun to watch. Carrell is the exact dose of hilarity to cure the mediocrity in the comedy world, and he’s pitiful, hysterical, and charming as Andy who really isn’t as much of a loser as we think in spite of his massive action figure collection and aversion to porn.
Apart from them there’s a truly engaging performance by Catherine Keener who plays a bashful yet loving woman who meets Andy one day and grows a relationship with him. The chemistry between the two makes for the best sequences of the film as Andy fumbles, Keener’s character tries, and the two mesh well. All of which ends with a very solid second half in which Andy struggles to grow up and move on from childish things. Apatow’s comedy is pure guiltless entertainment. I remain a fan of Judd Apatow from “Freaks and Geeks”, to “Undeclared”, right up to this, a sure to be classic comedy that’s funny, enlightening, engrossing, and filled with hilarious characters, and great performances. Apatow’s film has both replay value and surefire laughs, and I loved it.