The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Along with Wedding Crashers, this movie helped bring back the R rated comedy to the movie theatre, earning about $110 million for its troubles (not a bad take for a $26 million flick). Both movies share the distinctions of being huge summer hits, featuring man-child characters attempting to get laid, and both are uproariously funny.
Other than that, they are two very different films. Whereas Wedding Crashers mines well-worn territory for humour largely on the strength of the chemistry of stars Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (along with the brilliant wedding crashing montage), Judd Apatow's The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a far more original piece of work, with more layers, and dare I say, nuance even.
More than a one joke premise about some loser who never got laid in all his forty years, the movie presents us with a perfectly nice guy in Andy Stitzer (the hilarious Steve Carell), who for one reason or another, failed to have sex until he just moved on in life. Sure, he is a nerd, but he's not a loser, nor is he a weirdo. To me, Stitzer, with all his action figures and video games, is a classic example of a dude who spent too many years single. It really isn't healthy for guys to get too old and unattached. They just become peculiar, finding weird ways to occupy their time and spend their money on (think: creepy older guy at the club, or maybe a bachelor uncle you may have). Stitzer is peculiar in his way, but also very endearing and enough of a guy's guy to joke around with his new friends and cover for them when they get into trouble.
Stitzer's interactions with his new buddies is the strength of the film, making the film much more of a buddy comedy than the bawdy farce it is disguised as. The movie is far more Swingers than it is American Pie, which makes Stitzer such an easy character to cheer for, which in turn makes you pull for him to get laid more than you did for all four kids in American Pie combined. The interactions between the four guys in the film (Carell, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, and Seth Rogan) is pitch-perfect in its depiction of thirtyish Peter Pan-types, simultaneously supporting each other while ruthlessly trash talking each other. This movie is worth seeing for the scene where Rudd and Rogan discuss each others supposed gayness alone. They perfectly nailed modern male bonding in that one.
But the true highlight of the film is Carell, who creates a sympathetic, lovable character while never forgetting his primary job is to bring the funny. Which he does in spades. Whether you're laughing with him or at him, you're laughing with this movie, laughing early and laughing often.
DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story (2004)
Old School (2003)
Wedding Crashers (2005)