Monday, November 14, 2005

The 40 Year Old Virgin (Apatow, 2005)

While watching The 40 Year Old Virgin, I was struck by how much has changed since the early eighties comedy, Bachelor Party. Bachelor Party, of course, was the sort of film Tom Hanks did early on in his career before the movie-going public decided that he was the new Jimmy Stewart. An exceptionably bawdy comedy, Bachelor Party derived humor from male insensitivity and the way men fear that marriage will limit their sex lives. In the film, women are generally viewed as either potential conquests or obstacles that must necessarily be deceived in order to live as one pleases. Now we have The 40 Year Old Virgin which approaches the sex comedy from a completely different angle. Here we have a protagonist that claims he respects women so much, he does them the favor of staying completely away from them. In this picture, it is the sensitive male that is the source of humor, but also the character we urge on, hoping he will find satisfaction. Though they have their own share of anxieties and insecurities, the women for the most part know what they want sexually and use their directness to head off any potential shenanigans. Even a young woman that is targeted at a bar as a potentially easy lay due to her level of intoxication remains in both the proverbial and literal driver’s seat. Yet another, a particularly randy bookstore employee, demonstrates that Whitney Houston was right all along – learning to love yourself truly is the greatest love of all. And then we have Trish, played by Catherine Keener, who does not allow the unusual behavior of her virgin boyfriend to dissuade her from pursuing the healthy relationship that she eagerly craves. The 40 Year Old Virgin is a film where male co-workers cry in each other’s presence and support each other through the trying task of finding love, while women barf in public and commit sexual harassment in the workplace. Besides all that, it’s actually a very funny film with an ensemble that clearly enjoys working together. Though the film’s major joke eventually gets repetitive and Andy’s confession to Trish is surprisingly sentimental, The 40 Year Old Virgin is a solid crowd-pleaser that is certainly cleverer than one might initially expect.



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