"The 40 Year Old Virgin" is one of the most strangely ovverated films I've seen of 2005. It doesn't anything incredible to offer more than the average dumb comedy, yet critics and audiences obsessed over it. I was expecting much more when I decided to see it. And what a terrible disappointment.
But it's not a bad movie, and there are often hysterical moments, many involving Steve Carell, one of the greatest comedians of the past few years. But director Judd Apatow and co writer Carell never seem to be aiming as high as the pedestal this film was put on. The movie occaisonally slips back into standard spoof movie cliches and this is so frustrating it distracts from the overall quality of the film. And let's face it: the ending is terrible. Do we really need a musical number of "Aquarius" at the end? The film is funniest when it lets some of the supporting actors take control of the script and make it funnier than it would originally seem. The first 2/3 of this movie I would put under "very good." But by the last third the supporting actors are no longer valued and the movie becomes contrived and annoying. Some have said Catharine Keener should have gotten a nomination for this instead of Capote because she was "misused" in Capote. Rather, it's the other way around - in Capote she exposes layer upon layer of emotions that are never obvious because she never speaks her mind. In The 40 Year Old Virgin she never gets a chance to show good acting or even comedy. Her function is to be the "striaght" character (think a modern day, sexier Margaret Dumont) and deliver standard, predictable lines.
Often times the film feels choppy and confusing. The direction the characters are going in are confusing. Scenes end too quickly and begin too quickly. The plot, quite often, is extremely confusing, especially around the transition between the second and third thirds of the movie.
But let me talk about Steve Carell. The man is hilarious. And for the first two thirds, he is given free reign. And maybe he does deserve a nomination for best actor...
Well, looking at the lineup that year, maybe not quite. But in the top 10, certainly. Carell is the Brando of comedy. His very eyes and slight twitch of the mouth are executed perfectly, and throws everything into making us laugh. I admire him for doing so and cannot wait to see his future films.