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The 40-Year Old Virgin is just one of those movies that comes around once a year that really makes you laugh and enjoy yourself. As cliché as is sounds, the film has enough life and personality to save the rest of the generic box office fare for the rest of the year, and still have an enjoyment factor equal, or better than, any other film we’ll see. There’s so much to like about Virgin that we’ll start with the obvious, Steve Carell.

Simply put, Carell makes The 40-Year Old Virgin into what it is with a great performance topping that of the over-confident, somewhat dim-witted Michael Scott on the US version of The Office. Carell, who also co-wrote the movie with first time feature film director Judd Apatow, invokes the sympathies of the audience as he missteps his way around women with the ultimate goal of losing his virginity. Falling to the peer pressure of his friends (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Romany Malco), Carell’s Andy bar-hops, experiences a visit from a transvestite, and prepares for pornography by lighting candles in one of the longest preparations to pleasure one’s self ever.

While the focus of the film is on Andy, his three friends played by Rudd, Rogen, and Malco cash in for a majority of the laughs. David (Rudd) is infatuated with a former girlfriend as he sinks into depression after meeting up with her one more time. Cal (Rogen) is a ladies man with a crude outlook on life which provides amazing comedic value especially in one of the movie’s latter scenes. Jay (Malco) is the tied down player who has a girlfriend but also manages to score with every other women in the city.

Surprisingly the film is full of depth despite being based on a seemingly shallow premise. At its core it’s a story about a man losing his virginity, but deep down it’s a showcase of just how pathetic and weird we are as a social culture. Something as simple as a thong can provide endless hours of jokes and banter amongst friends and Carell and Apatow’s script showcases this without bounds.

Like Wedding Crashers before it, The 40-Year Old Virgin provides tons and tons of laughs, both scripted and improvised as the actors were allowed to go crazy with certain scenes, such as the oft-mentioned waxing scene. More surprising, most of the funny moments don’t come in any of the scenes we’ve witnessed in trailers and other promotional material. The film earns its R-rating with more than enough nudity, gross-out humor, and bodily fluids to make American Pie and Porky’s jealous.

The film does begin to drag towards the end, much like the aforementioned Crashers, as the story is about 25 minutes longer than it needs to be, but those who can put up with a slightly less funny third-act are treated to one of the funniest credit sequences you’ve seen this side of Anchorman.

The film also has a bit of heart as Andy isn’t portrayed as a 2D character just looking to get his jolly off with a woman. He’s a complicated character who’s torn between looking good in-front of his friends, finding a woman whom he really likes and wants to be with, and sustaining some sanity in a workplace that rivals the Quik Stop in Clerks for its zany employees. Combine this all together with a barrel of laughs and you have a great picture.

Finally, this review wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging Judd Apatow’s excellence in directing this picture. Forced to see two of his most promising TV shows (Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared) canceled at the hands of FOX (and who hasn’t by now), Apatow bounces back in his big screen debut with roaring success in what has a good chance in being the year’s best comedy.   

While the Academy Awards stay away from comedies like this, one can only hope someone gets some recognition for managing to break the mold for a sex comedy and craft something that should inspire future generations to take notice of the skills presented in putting this picture together. As it stands now, The 40-Year Old Virgin is one of the year’s finest films and it would be a shame for anyone to miss it.