The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

(On DVD, June 2006) I really expected to hate this movie, and this expectation never completely disappeared throughout the entire film: Time and time again, I found myself gritting my teeth in anticipation, dreading the obvious gags that would follow. But what’s perhaps most impressive about The 40-Year-Old Virgin is how it manages to side-step the obvious and deliver a surprisingly heart-felt comedy. Like the better sex comedies, it has a conflicted take on the subject, considering it as much as a source of problems than an end upon itself. Fortunately, there’s more to the film than a score chart, and perhaps the biggest asset of the script is the vast number of fully-realized supporting characters. The sometime rough banter between guys is spot-on, although the film allows itself a number of off-the-wall moments from time to time. Interestingly enough, this depth of characterization carries along a number of problems: The film ends with a considerable number of loose ands and characters left by the wayside, more than enough to pack a sequel if someone would be so inclined. Other missteps abound, especially during the increasingly moralistic and easy conclusion: After seeing the film top itself for so long, it’s a shame to see it fumble with the usual romantic comedy misunderstanding and spectacular finale. Despite the title, the trailers and the “unrated!” marketing, there’s actually an unnerving sub-text of stuffy morality weaved throughout, with a conclusion designed to charm mainstream America. In the end, the best I can say is that I didn’t hate the film as much as I though I would… and even laughed a few times.

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