The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) — No shame in waiting for the best

“You know how when you grab a woman’s breast… it feels like… a bag of sand.”

Justin’s rating: Even bananas need to learn about safe sex

Justin’s review: In our flip-turned society, we’ve long since passed the point where “virgin” became the dirty word, the shame-filled moniker, and terms like “smooch-monkey” and “knocked up” became labels of pride. How did this happen? It’s weird. Even back to the late ’70s, early ’80s in teen movie history, to lose one’s virginity was seen as the threshold of adulthood, desired by all and feared by none (STDs? Fuggetaboutit.). A virgin in movies became someone who was such a loser that they could just never get any tail — certainly not a person who chose abstinence for a personal conviction.

It’s with mixed feelings that I cruised through The 40-Year-Old Virgin, for sex for the wrong reasons can just mess you up and good. Before you have any, it’s all you can think about, and after you do, it’s all you can think about. But as Ferris Bueller once said, virgins tend to build up sex to the “be-all, end-all of human existence” to the point where it makes us stupid for it. I think the makers of 40YOV knew this, and crafted both a crude and charming film around this idea.

Andy (Steve Carrell) is a 40-year-old “eternal bachelor” who lives by himself in an apartment festooned with mint-condition collectables, plays video games, bikes to work, and has never had sex (the times he almost did are covered in hilarious flashbacks). He’s a nice guy but socially inept — at least until his coworkers befriend him and try to teach him how to get out there and hook up with women. They’re… perhaps not the best teachers for Andy, but he’s too meek to realize this.

Steve Carrell does a bang-up job bringing us a guy who could’ve either been a pathetic, drooling loser or a creepy pervert, and instead plays him as a gentle, nice guy in a sea of losers and perverts. Andy’s reached a point in his life where he’s content with his existence and virginity, but his friends pestering and prodding convince him that things could be better and involve much more nudity. During a slew of episodes, including a very funny “speed dating” session, Andy discovers actual love, not just sex — but he can’t seem to escape coitus no matter where he turns.

Let me be frank with you. No, let me be Randy. Wait, that doesn’t work either. Hm. How about Chuck. I’ll be Chuck and you’ll be you. Listen, not-Chuck, although this movie got critically and publicly lauded, I still had a hard time with it. It’s very funny, yes, but there’s a sheer mountain of crudity involved that can’t be avoided. Every character other than Andy (and, sometimes including Andy) is so extremely foul-mouthed that when I wasn’t laughing, I was wincing. I saw the “unrated” version with an extra 17 minutes tacked on, and I have to wonder how much of this crudeness was added in, and how much was already there when the film was in theaters. It’s also a long haul, well over two hours, which is quite extreme for a comedy.

These issues aside, I actually applaud 40YOV because, in its own fumbling way, it comes to a wholesome conclusion about sex. While virginity might be frustrating, casual sex can be as well, believe it or not. 40YOV asks the question that if neither of these are desirable to the average person with a huge libido, what then? The answer is perfect, and one I don’t think I’ve seen in any modern romance movie (if you think about romantic movie clichés, you might be able to guess the outcome here). For this alone, it holds merit, but just make sure you’re 40 before you see this — any younger, and your ears just won’t handle it.

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