Here’s a confession, if you hadn’t already figured it out: I’m a bit of a movie snob. Usually, I go to films that are running at the more “artsy” cinema emporium in town, the Spectrum.. I DO tend to avoid the multiplex at the mall (and the mall in general). But it was movie date time, nothing was playing at the Spectrum that we wanted to see, and there is a local theater, the Madison, that plays more mainstream fare and really could use the community support.
So, that’s how Carol and I ended up at a movie called “The 40-Year Old Virgin.” I KNEW it was going to be a bit coarse and crude, of course. Yet it had several things going for it. Steve Carell, who I knew best from “The Daily Show”, was writing and producing, as well as starring. I found him painfully dead-on last season in the Americanized version of “The Office.” (Haven’t seen it yet this season.)
Catherine Keener, who I liked in “Lovely & Amazing” and loved in “Being John Malkovich” was featured as the potential love interest.
And most importantly, from my perspective, the piece was co-written by Judd Apatow, the creative force behind a couple of my favorite coming-of-age TV shows, “Freaks & Geeks” and the even more unfortunately short-lived “Undeclared.”
Andy Stitzer works in a Best Buy sort of place. Three of his co-workers (and friends?) discover his secret and decide to “fix” it, and him. In their own ways, they are nearly as inept dealing with women as the title character.
Yes, it was raunchy and even silly. Yet, Carrell held the center of the movie together. Also, anyone who has worked in a comic book store or similar shop will recognize the collector mentality that “Andy” possessed.
In many ways, it was dead-on on some of the ways of courting and relationships. “Shrewdly observant,” one review indicated, and I’ll buy that. Paul Rudd (probably best known from “Friends”), Romany Malco, and Seth Rogen (who appeared in both of Apatow’s TV shows) are quite sharp as the very different colleagues. Keener, who’s warm character-with-a-secret, was great, as expected. Jane Lynch, who’s been in “Best of Show” and “A Mighty Wind”, has quite possibly the best bit in the film.
Here’s the bottom line: it’s a comedy. I laughed. A lot. Even at thing I thought were tasteless, or goofy (“Jupiter aligns with Mars.”)
And in the midst of all of that, I thought the movie was…sweet, somehow. Everyone, from his upstairs neighbors on are pulling for Andy, as we did. So, for an intelligently crass good time, I recommend (much to my surprise) the movie.
NBC, which has less and less going for it, is loving the chance to exploit the success of the movie to promote Steve Carell’s appearance on SSNL last night (recorded, not watched), and especially the new season of The Office. I’ve seen the first two episodes. There’s a thin line between pain and pleasure, and this show REALLY stradles it.