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  Movie Review

The 40-Year-Old Virgin

By Harry Forbes
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- We've seen it before. The buddies of a painfully shy, awkward guy -- who has never had a girlfriend -- help him find true love.

But this latest incarnation, "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (Universal), is relentlessly vulgar and frequently offensive, even beyond the false premise that there's something intrinsically wrong with an unmarried man being sexually inexperienced.

Andy (played by the likable and understatedly funny Steve Carell) is an electronics store clerk whose rowdy, sexist co-workers, David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco) and Cal (Seth Rogen) set out to help him, finally, lose his virginity.

Their methods involve taking him out carousing to meet women at bars, loading him with pornography and sexual aids, sending him speed-dating and setting him up with a prostitute (a transvestite as it happens). A terrifying car ride in which a drunken woman (Leslie Mann) he picked up in a bar attempts to seduce him before barfing all over him is emblematic of the film's lowdown humor. A body-waxing sequence during which the hirsute Andy has some patches of hair ripped off him is more wince-inducing than funny, and the pain unleashes even more expletives.

One day, Trish (Catherine Keener) -- who sells items on eBay in a ramshackle shop across the street -- comes into the store, and the attraction is apparent. It turns out she's a single mother with three children and a grandchild, and once he works up the nerve to ask her for a date the relationship turns into something real.

Trish doesn't understand his reticence about sleeping with her, and Andy is mortified at the idea of telling her. Complications ensue.

Director and co-writer Judd Apatow's film has many good ingredients, including an adept cast. In addition to those mentioned, there are good turns by Elizabeth Banks, Jane Lynch and Kat Dennings. But all of them, especially Carell himself, deserve way better.

The comic setup is classic, but the screenplay, co-written by Carell -- who only has himself to blame -- is mostly trashy. The nonstop f-words and raunchy sexual talk and situations make for an embarrassingly tasteless two hours.

Ironically, once the Andy-Trish old-fashioned romance hits its stride, the tone of the film improves, but even though the ending is morally satisfying it's too little too late.

With something close to the basic plot, the same cast and a tasteful script, this could have been a real charmer, but they've shot themselves in the foot by going for the lowest common denominator.

The romantic comedy "Hitch" managed to break box-office records with a modicum of bad language and sexual situations. "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" is unlikely to appeal to many beyond the goofy teens who seem to be its intended audience.

The film contains profanity, rough and crude language, racial epithets, rear and partial nudity, heavy sexual content including strongly permissive view of premarital sex, condom use, characters displaying demeaning view of women, crass gay and bathroom humor, drug use and drinking. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O -- morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R -- restricted.

- - -

Forbes is director of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

END


Copyright (c) 2005 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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