He Said: Old virgin carries me back
Despite what the title suggests, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” isn’t exactly uncharted territory.It’s not that too many virgins at the movies are as long in the tooth as Andy Stitzer (actor Steve Carell), but the character is of a vintage you can trace back to “American Pie,” Farmer Ted in “Sixteen Candles,” and “Porky’s.” You could even argue that Andy has been around for even longer, since the frustrated fraternity of those other films wasn’t getting any in high school or college during the ’80s, while Andy’s got his 401(k) to worry about.It’s probably not giving too much away to reveal that Farmer Ted hooked up with the prom queen. Nor is Andy’s condition, as the title reveals the punch line to what could have been a lot of is-he-or-isn’t-he fun. But Andy’s behavior is almost as revealing as the title.Most of the promotional materials and early reviews of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” suggest director Judd Apatow took pains to portray Andy as a regular guy – with just that one exception. As such, Steve Carell (42 in real life) seems like about as good a champion as moviegoing virgins could hope for: He’s smart enough for Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” and buffer and better looking than you’d probably expect a nearly middle-aged virgin to be – at least with Anthony Michael Hall all tied up with “The Dead Zone.”In fact, Andy seems like such a nice guy that the script has to fill in his character to make him odd enough to be a believable virgin. None of his quirks are obvious: It’s not that Andy works at an electronics store, but that he’s in the stockroom instead of on the sales floor. It’s not that he commutes there by bike, but that he hikes his pants up to his knees to keep them from getting caught on the chain ring. And it’s not that he passes his free time by playing video games, it’s that he does it in a special chair with two joysticks.It’s hard to say what passes for strange in the 30-and-up virgins club – perhaps Michael Jackson could take notes at the next meeting – but Andy seems more like one of Apatow’s “Freaks and Geeks” characters all grown up (except for one certain rite of passage) than a normal guy who just never had sex. At least his circle of friends (actors Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogan) has just as messed up – and funny – lives.The laugh-and-cringe sense of humor, coupled with a sturdy, if not subtle, metaphor in the mint-condition action figures lining Andy’s shelves definitely makes “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” above average, for a bawdy romantic comedy. But it’s so hard to identify with Andy, the movie isn’t as exceptional as its title character.
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Not everyone gives Jack Chen a warm welcome when he walks into his favorite bar.