Portions of this review have been “borrowed” from Brendan Surpless’ recent review of the HD-DVD version of the disc, which can also be found on the site.
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 The 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 forty year old whose definition of a busy weekend is preparing an egg salad sandwich and changing the color of his action 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 at 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 The 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 glanceÂ “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. 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.
For whatever reason, I just wasn’t wowed by the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation of the film. Not remembering what the initial transfer was like, I can’t say definitively if it’s the new one or not, but this one sports a bit of edge enhancement and I wouldn’t recommend watching it after watching a next generation title, you’ll wind up being let down.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround that sounds a bit muted and wasted on a dialogue driven comedy with very little in the way of immersive sound effects. Nevertheless, everything sounds clear and without worry.
I’ve broken down the features into two categories (Regular features and new features).
- 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 what scenes were some of the tougher ones to film. I found it interesting just how many people where featured on this track, which resulted in nary a rare moment.
- Deleted Scenes: We are given a handful of deleted scenes, some of 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.
- NEW “Double Your Pleasure” Features
- 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.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this will be the last version of The 40 Year Old Virgin that we’ll see on DVD, unless there’s a sequel in the works, and god help us all on that count. The extras are funny and pretty exhaustive, plus you get a ticket to what promises to be a good film in Knocked Up, and if there was an edition of the film to get on DVD, this (or the HD-DVD version) would be the one.
Special Features List
- Blooper Reel
- Deleted Scenes
- Audition Footage
- Interview Footage
- Video Diaries