Since Steve Carell broke into the comedic world with the film Anchorman, audiences have seemingly labeled him the new comedic genius with some comparing him to Jim Carrey. While I don’t completely agree with such a comment, Carell can definitely carry a film by himself, which is evident here with 40-Year Old Virgin.
The plot of The 40 Year Old Virgin can be summed up by a cursory glance at the title of the movie. In slightly more detail; Steve Carrell plays Andy Stitzer, a socially awkward fo…ty year old whose definition of a busy weekend is preparing an egg salad sandwich and changing the color of his figure’s pants. When Carell reveals (by accident one might add) to his colleagues that his virginity is still firmly attached during a poker game, they set about helping him lose it as quickly as possible. Naturally, this entails humiliation, comical misunderstandings and a fair amount of low-brow humor.
The 40 Year Old Virgin is the type of comedy that is funny mainly because of how you start to feel for Andy. One may not think that Carell is funny if you didn’t enjoy Anchorman, but Carell is perfect as Andy because he comes across as this innocent man who sees no fault in his life. Yes he is a virgin as 40 years old in his life, but he doesn’t seem completely bothered by this as he leads, well what he calls, a very structured life. He has the standard affairs including making breakfast and watching TV with his neighbors. Sounds like a pretty decent life no? Well obviously with a title like 40-Year Old Virgin, we need a central love figure that will attract Andy’s interest.
Catherine Keener plays Trish and, although she’s absent for many of the earlier scenes, she gives the film some sense of purpose in the later stages and changes the at first glance ‘sex-story’ into a true love-story. Once Keener’s character was introduced, the film was given a huge step into the positive column. Even though her purpose if obvious, we can’t help but begin to feel for the two characters. Her challenge is to create a relationship we care about and we do end up caring. For Trish, Andy isn’t simply a 40-Year Old loser Virgin, but rather a complex man that she wants to figure out.
Earlier scenes with Andy attempting to chat up women in clubs are amusing due to Carrell’s performance. Carrell, as mentioned earlier, is a real delight in this film. Take for example a later sequence where he must accompany Trish’s teenage daughter to a sex education class. The sequence, where this time he openly admits his virginity, is innovative and a particular highlight. Instead of this sequence becoming a standard stupid ‘let’s laugh at Andy’s misfortunes’, the scene comes off a true gem showing the quality of Carell.
Ultimately, the film can only go in one direction and it wouldn’t be spoiling things to reveal that Andy loses his cherry at the finale of the film. Given the title of the film, the film could have been a crude sex comedy with contempt for its characters (Even Carell admits this in the included PIP commentary). However, The 40-Year Old Virgin is surprisingly funny and insightful. While the included ‘Unrated’ cut does feel a bit too long in some places, the film’s main purpose remains intact and we still end up caring for Andy. Fans of Carell, or really funny comedy, will enjoy this one.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 1:85:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Virgin continues the winning ways for Universal as this transfer marks a solid improvement over the SD counterpart.
Color usage was great with crisp blues of the sky, dark blacks of the night and solid facial tones (although some of Carell’s facial tones truly showed how HD can make an image seem almost too ‘real’). Grain was pretty much absent only becoming noticeable in a few of the darker sequences (I noticed a bit here and there when Andy is racing back to his apartment after the poker game). The original Unrated SD release was plagued with a few problems (most notable was the blandest of the colors). This HD release improves those problems in a manner that fans will be pleased with.
Arriving with the standard Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 affair, Virgin doesn’t really need a powerful audio track as 90% of the film is pure dialogue.
As I just noticed, with the film being 90% dialogue, dialogue better come off in a intelligible manner. Luckily this is the case here. Never did the film’s dialogue become muddled or hard to understand (unless you count when the PIP was enabled). Surround usage wasn’t overly represented except during some of the club sequences when you could make out the song. I also thought that most of the effects felt kind of tinny not really ever becoming overly present. Bass was only present in the club sequences and even when it was present, it never became a force. While this isn’t the best example of HD audio, this track reminded me of the track for Nutty Professor, ie nothing demo-worthy, but perfectly acceptable given the film’s content.
I’ve broken down the features into three categories (Regular features, new features and HD DVD exclusives).
- Feature Audio Commentary with Judd Apatow: Here we are presented with a very delightful commentary track. The main talk featured the discussion of the film’s subject and where some of the tougher scenes to film were. I found it interesting just how many people where featured on this track, which resulted in a rare dull moment being found.
- Deleted Scenes: We are given a handful of deleted scenes, some which are incorporated back into the film. The scenes did not really do that much for me, story wise. A good positive to the scenes were the available audio commentaries by Judd Apatow and Seth Rogan.
- Waxing Doc: Take one guess what this special feature is about? Give up? This feature has to do with the waxing scene, which looks extremely painful. Definitely a feature that needs to be seen just to see how painful this truly is.
- Date-A-Palooza: Now here is a feature that is pretty damn funny. The main premise involves many of the actors giving tips on speed dating with various types of women. A pretty funny feature.
- My Dinner With Stormy: This feature can only be found on the Unrated version of The 40-Year Old Virgin. This feature involves Seth Rogan sitting down with adult actress Stormy Daniels. Both go back and forth asking each other questions with her flirting with the camera. Worth a quick watch, but don’t expect anything too amazing.
- Gag-Reel: Just like any other gag reel here. Various clips are shown of the actors messing up on their lines and scenes. The really funny part of this particular Gag-Reel was the extension of the hilarious “You know how I know you’re gay?” Scene. Worth a watch just for this.
- Video Diaries: This feature focuses on a series of video diaries director Judd Apatow kept while filming Virgin. Fans of the film will definitely enjoy this feature as it shows how funny, especially when he’s going off on rants, Apatow can be.
- Auditions: Running extremely short, this one shows the auditions many of the cast members gave.
- Raw Footage: This feature focuses mostly on Steve Carell. Included are the bits from the poker sequence, the waxing sequence and the bathtub sequence. While all the scenes play out the same in terms of visuals, the added bits of randomness make this one pretty funny.
- Reel Comedy Roundtable: This Comedy Central special dealt with all the main participants from the film. All of the participants speak about what they felt the film was about and what they got from the film.
- Cinemax Final Cut: This one serves as a basic Q&A sessions where the four main actors sit down and field a few questions.
NEW ‘Double Your Pleasure’ Features
- U-Control: Universal continues supporting their HD DVD releases by giving Virgin another one of their Picture-In-Picture commentaries. In all honest, I found this one quite amusing. Even though the PIP is basically snips and clips from the included features, watching the film while hearing comments from Carell, Apatow, Rogen and others made the film feel a bit more important than it probably should be. Fans will enjoy watching this one (especially the bits where Apatow speaks on improvising with Carell and others).
HD DVD Exclusives
Universal continues their winning ways with 40-Year Old Virgin on HD DVD. Giving the film a fine transfer with equally good audio, the real highlight of this package is the amazing inclusion of extras (especially the entertaining PIP). Fans will definitely want to upgrade their SD copy to HD, while those on the fence will still want to buy this one as Carell shows that he has a bright future ahead of him.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes
- Waxing Doc
- My Dinner With Stormy
- Video Diaries
- Raw Footage
- Reel Comedy Roundtable
- Cinemax Final Cut