In our oversexed culture, people who choose to go without sex are inevitably regarded as a little freakish. Three years ago, Josh Hartnett starred in 40 Days and 40 Nights, a comedy about a hot young stud who shocks his friends by giving up sex, or at least the fullest expression of it, for Lent; but instead of a celebration of chastity, his newfound interest in abstinence becomes just another way to find newer, more exotic forms of physical pleasure. If mainstream culture finds it impossible to go without sex for a little more than a month, then just imagine what it would make of a man who has somehow made it to his 40th year—a full generation, biblically speaking—without ever touching a naked woman.
There are lots of stereotypes about grown-up virgins, and The 40-Year-Old Virgin—about a man whose co-workers conspire to hook him up, so to speak, after they discover he has never done the deed—plays on every single one of them. But in its own peculiar way, the film stands these stereotypes on their head, so much so that, by the end, our protagonist seems like the sanest character of the bunch. This is as much a function of the film's casting as anything else. Andy Stitzer, the virgin in question, is played by Steve Carell, a brilliant scene-stealer who may be best known for the dweeby broadcasters he played in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Carell's character here is still something of a dork, but as the leading man, Carell has an opportunity to flesh him out and to make him more human. What's more, almost all the other characters have peculiar traits of their own, and since we identify with Andy, this makes him, in some sense, the straight man.
At first, The 40-Year-Old Virgin ...1
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The 40-Year-Old Virgin
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