The 40-Year-Old Virgin can be looked to as perhaps the breakthrough film that started this new era of comedy. It’s Judd Apatow’s directorial debut, and with this film, he took the teen comedy format to a whole different level, proving that the movies can be more entertaining and more lucrative if aimed towards an older audience.
Although we’ve seen over the years smaller examples of this method, Apatow finally proved to the world that comedies could be blockbusters too. To the extent that nearly 15 years later, a film in the genre could potentially be in a box office war with a big budget action flick.
And it’s led by a not-yet-well-known Steve Carell, who plays Andy, a 40-year-old nerd who’s never been with a girl before. He doesn’t really have any friends, so when his four coworkers discover his purity, they vow to “help him out”.
His colleagues weren’t necessarily friends with Andy before, but throughout this journey, they come to be very close.
The movie’s not all pro-sex. In fact, the movie takes a refreshing turn towards the end of the 2nd act. Not only is the movie very funny, but we get a great story out of the characters’ varying agendas.
The film also took comedy completely off-script in a way that hadn’t been done before. It felt really loose and open-ended. Comedians were able to riff for as long as they wanted to without being confined to what’s on the page. And this not only enhanced the intimacy of the viewing experience, but upped the ante for comedies in the future. If a comedy wanted to compete with the likeness of Apatow and Company, it would require some people who were actually funny.
But there’s a downfall to all this too. Comedies eventually tended to get way too long, and directors weren’t able to tell if a scene dragged on for too long. But the best from the bunch always stood tall.
Carell’s supporting cast consists of also-not-yet-well-known Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, and Jane Lynch. Even a young Jonah Hill gets a couple scenes.
Considering all this, it’s a surprise that Romany Malco, who plays one of Carell’s three work buddies, carries his own extremely well amongst soon-to-be comedy legends. He gets some great lines and executes them as well as anyone could have.
Most people who hear the title of the movie will either want to see it or not want to see it. But the latter may be pleasantly surprised. Whether or not this film is for you, one can’t deny how it changed the comedy landscape forever–for better or worse.