Never-Been-Kissed Nerd Looks for First Love in Over-the Top Comedy

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In the movie Bruce Almighty, motor-mouthed Steve Carrell actually managed to upstage Jim Carrey, at least momentarily, during an unforgettable scene as a TV newscaster who can’t help but unleash a torrent of unintelligible gibberish while under a spell cast by his jealous competitor. On the strength of that memorable cameo, this alumnus of Chicago’s famed Second City comedy troupe parlayed his performance into several larger, though less well-received outings in flicks like Anchorman and Bewitched.
 
Furthermore, he has even landed a couple of title roles, that of Maxwell Smart in the upcoming adaptation of Get Smart, and here, as Andy Stitzer, aka The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Regrettably, Carrell simply fails to exhibit any of the star quality expected of an actor expected to carry a full-length feature film. While he undoubtedly has what it takes to make a capable character actor, this misfiring misadventure only magnifies his absence of magnetism and his inability to generate chemistry with co-star Catherine Keener.

Plus, the picture is plagued by a host of problems independent of its leading man, starting with a premise which many might find offensive. The storyline is sort of a sorry cross of American Pie and There’s Something about Mary, measuring up to those shock comedies only in terms of raunchiness, not laughs.

Like Pie, the plot revolves around the urgent need to end Andy virginity ASAP. And as in Mary, the protagonist is a never-been-kissed loser who has a clumsy crush on an attractive woman clearly out of his league. So, it’s obvious almost from the outset that any eventual resolution will lay in a convenient dovetailing of these parallel themes during the denouement. Meanwhile, the audience is asked to endure two hours of off-color slapstick and gross-out jokes, none of which elicited one laugh out of this critic.

Andy Stitzer is a good-natured geek who rides a bicycle to his job at an electronics chain store named Smart Tech. A nerd in every sense of the word, his hobbies include playing the tuba, singing karaoke, and painting toy soldiers. He describes himself as a gentleman who respects women but this doesn’t sit well with his co-workers, David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco), Cal (Seth Rogen), relatively experienced Romeos who figure out that their 40 year-old colleague is still a virgin.

So, this trio proceeds to serve as a potty-mouthed Greek chorus, coaching and cajoling Andy to find any woman willing to alleviate his terminal state of tumescence. They do everything they can to set the mood: getting him drunk and high on pot, sending him on speed dates, supplying him with a pornography collection, and setting him up with a cute customers and the office tramp, all to no avail.

“You’re putting the pussy on a pedestal,� chastises Jay, a womanizer who loves to boast about cheating on his pregnant girlfriend. This bizarre black man, who is fond of sprinkling his conversation with the gratuitous use of the N-word. suggests that the way Andy ought to handle a reluctant lover is to, “Punch her in the f*cking head.�

Many impressionable male teenagers in the targeted demographic will undoubtedly howl at this Neanderthal’s approval of forcible rape and other . But the supposed role models in this movie so frequently cross a line in terms of basic human decency that parents ought to consider this fair warning. The 40 Year-Old Virgin, while masquerading as a sweet romantic comedy, is, in truth, an infuriating, offensive, soft-porn primer on how to treat girls as objects who exist at the disposal of men.         

Poor (0 stars)
Rating: R for profanity, ethnic slurs, female frontal nudity, soft pornography, pervasive sexual situations, crude humor, and the promotion of excessive alcohol consumption and illegal drug usage.
Running time: 116 minutes
Studio: Universal Pictures

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