Goaded by his buddies, a nerdy guy who’s never “done the deed” only finds the pressure mounting when he meets a single mother.
Year 1, Day 281
BEFORE: After a brief hiatus, movie marathon is starting up yet again and I’m going to keep on chugging along with comedy films. Steve Carell stars again, this time as the title character of The 40 Year Old Virgin. This is also the first Judd Apatow directed film in the marathon but will be the first of a few Apatow produced films. For those who don’t know, this is the guy who’s made a name for himself with films like Anchorman (upcoming in the marathon), Superbad, and more recently Bridesmaids.
AFTER: Early on in the film, Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) says to David (Paul Rudd), “I wouldn’t know what to do.” David’s reply is, “You gotta take a risk.” The problem is though, the film doesn’t take that many risks. The 40 Year Old Virgin is an ok comedy, but the laughter isn’t my default takeaway from the film; disappointment is.
What do I mean by default takeaway? I mean if placed in the hands of less capable and talented filmmakers, this same film probably wouldn’t be funny at all. Let me expand on this by saying what I don’t like about the film. Two things stood out the most: the obvious use of improv and some surprising/unfitting scenes. The biggest offender is the improv. Improvisation is great, it’s a very useful technique for actors and something that’s hard to do well. I feel the best form of improvisation is the kind that happens organically, when someone decides on the spot to add or alter a line of dialogue. The 40 Year Old Virgin uses another kind of improv: premeditated. It’s obvious just from watching the film which scenes were improvised and that’s not a good sign because it takes away the natural flow. These scenes are like a list of jokes, one after another, with no sense of when enough is enough or even which joke is the best. It would be best if they set the joke up, delivered a punch line (maybe two would be fine), and then move onto the next scene. What they do instead is spend minutes on one joke so by the end it’s no longer funny.
Adding to the “What were they thinking?” category, is a handful of other scenes/plot points that just didn’t fit with the rest of the film, content or style-wise. The most obvious example is the musical number at the end. Given my previous comments on other films, you might think my opinion on the musical number is biased against it, but I can assure you it’s not; at least not fully. This could be chalked up to personal taste but I didn’t think it sounded or looked good. Carell, as funny as he is, should not sing. It wasn’t bad enough you would want to rip your ears off, but it wasn’t pleasant to listen to either. Visually, both in terms of props and choreography, it was also very sub par. There was nothing exciting or entertaining about it; it was bland. Add to all of this the fact that it was the only musical number in the film and didn’t fit in with the humor or style of the film, and you’re left with a big question mark.
You might think, given all my negativity towards the film, that I didn’t like it or find it funny whatsoever. That’s not the case. Underneath all this criticism lies a sweet story with a likable main character. There were still quite a few laughs scattered throughout the film, including some hearty laughs, and a well developed story. But, going back to my introduction, these parts were sadly overshadowed by the not-so-good parts. The 40 Year Old Virgin is not a film I would want to see repeatedly but it was entertaining to watch and if it happened to be playing on a TV, I might tune in for parts of it.
RATING: 3 out of 5