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The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
May 21, 2012 - 7:30 pm

Directed by Judd Apatow

Dating back to the critically acclaimed television show "Freaks and Geeks," Judd Apatow’s productions have always shown a particular affinity for outcasts and misfits. Apatow brings this sensibility to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, his directorial debut and the first collaboration between Apatow Productions and Universal Pictures.

Steve Carell, who first developed the idea of a closeted virgin in a skit for the Second City comedy troupe, stars as Andy, a shy, mild-mannered loner. Having given up any hope of intimacy with women after a series of awkward, fruitless encounters in his youth, Andy occupies himself with boyish pursuits: comic books, action figures, and video games. Like many of Apatow’s films, The 40-Year-Old Virgin mines the territory of men struggling to reconcile the demands of maturity with adolescent desires, but unlike later films such as Knocked Up (2007), the man in question here is not so much forced, as enabled, to grow up. Andy’s co-workers’ efforts to help him overcome his social clumsiness and solve his “problem” are as uproariously funny as they are revealing of each character’s fears and foibles. Co-written by Apatow and Carell, the film approaches Andy’s situation with insight and empathy as well as humor. Andy’s fumbling, tentative relationship with single mom Trish (Catherine Keener) tempers mortifyingly embarrassing moments with a feeling of genuine sympathy between the characters. Trish, too, has reservations about establishing intimacy, and a sense of understanding underlies the comic mishaps that surface as Andy and Trish struggle to overcome their anxieties and trepidations.

In a 2002 New York Times interview, Apatow described his work as “the opposite of event TV; it’s about the small moments of people’s lives.” At once a raucous buddy flick and an earnest romantic comedy, The 40-Year-Old Virgin plies the large and small moments of its characters’ lives with wit, clarity, and humanity.

—Nina Rao

Apatow Productions. Producer: J. Apatow, Clayton Townsend, Shauna Robertson. Screenwriter: J. Apatow, Steve Carell. Cinematographer: Jack Green. Editor: Brent White. Cast: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen.

35mm, color, 116 min.