The 40-Year Old Virgin made Judd Apatow a major force in Hollywood, introduced the masses to Seth Rogan, and paved the way for other comedies that marry vulgarity and heart (most of which are at least produced by Apatow). With its sunny, happy poster and self-explanatory title, it became a big hit and helped the careers of nearly every actor involved. The heavily improvised dialogue makes the situations seems more real and allows you to believe the cast are actually a group of friends. I always appreciate when a cast seemed to genuinely enjoy the filming process and that shines through in The 40 Year Old Virgin.
Andy (Steve Carell) has given up on finding love after a series of embarrassing experiences and has built a happy little life for himself, content to die a virgin. However, when his secret gets out among his co-workers, they make it their mission to help him lose his V-card. When Andy meets Trish (Catherine Keener) at his store, he manages to get her number and scores a date, but worried how she’ll react to his secret, he jumps at her suggestion that they spend time getting to know each other before being intimate.
One interesting element of the film is that while his co-workers (which include Paul Rudd, Seth Rogan, and Romany Malco) give Andy the push he needs to find love, their advice is terrible. They all have questionable love lives with Rudd still pining over an old flame, Malco cheating on his live-in girlfriend, and Rogan seemingly uninterested in anything beyond a one-night stand. They pressure Andy to just get it over with by hooking up with some random drunk chick at a bar, but it’s clear the concept makes Andy uncomfortable. There’s a great shot when Andy gives up on love after a fight with Trish and successfully picks up a girl at a bar. Back at her place she attempts to seduce him by getting into her tub and pleasuring herself with her shower head. The sadness on Andy’s face as her watches this stranger exposing so much of herself to him is heartbreaking. Andy didn’t need to start acting like a player in order to finally get laid, he just needed to realize he has a lot to offer.
I like that they didn’t make Andy super creepy or anything. He’s a fairly regular guy, he’s clean, there’s nothing glaringly wrong about his appearance, he’s friendly, he just has trouble meeting new people, and, more importantly, lacks the confidence to make the first move with a girl. I know a lot of nice guys who struggle landing dates and sometimes they blame the girls for not like “nice guys”, but that really isn’t the issue. It’s not that girls exclusively like jerks, they just tend to prefer guys who have confidence, or at least the confidence to ask them out and kiss them first. But most nice guys are paralyzed by the fear of offending the object of the affection or of being rejected.
40 Year Old Virgin is a fun movie for a date night at home. Apatow is the king of mixing rude jokes with charm because he tends to highlight people who care deeply about each other so you know all the teasing is in jest.