Okay, so the title’s a dud, but make it past that and you’ll find one of the best Hollywood comedies of the past few years (and one that doesn’t star Stiller, Wilson, Black or Ferrell – no, not even in a cameo). Steve Carell, best known as the non-sequitur-spouting moron in ‘Anchorman…’, plays the titular Andy, who has spent the four decades during which he’s not been having sex amassing an awesome collection of superhero figurines (many in their original packaging) and making egg salad sandwiches. His colleagues think he’s a serial killer, but after witnessing his terrible attempt at sex-talk during a game of poker, realise the problem’s much worse: he’s a virgin. Something must be done. It sounds like the plot of a terrible sex comedy, but first-time director Judd Apatow is an experienced writer and producer, with the fine titles of ‘Anchorman…’, ‘Larry Sanders’ and ‘Freaks and Geeks’ to his name. Here, he steers the plot away from the crude and the clichéd (one round of ‘gay’ jokes excepted), and although it seems he couldn’t bring himself to leave any gags on the cutting-room floor, the film wears its two hours well. At its best it resembles one of those classic early-’80s comedies starring Steve Martin – the thinking man’s Woody Allen – boasting an acute mix of desperation, dignity, lunacy and indecorous wit. Carell gives his sweet-faced dweeb character unexpected depth, while Catherine Keener makes much of the only female role written with anything approaching interest.
The 40 Year-Old Virgin
Cast and crew