The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: The 40-Year-Old Virgin

The Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“The 40-Year-Old Virgin”
Rated R

Judd Apatow might have been crowned the savior of American comedy, but the brutal truth is that he peaked with this, his first major hit. Sadly, so did Steve Carell.

After 2005’s funniest film, both men fell victim to bad impulses. Apatow produced a litany of crushingly awful duds (“Year One,” “Drillbit Taylor”) and directed a terribly overindulgent, and overlong, comedy in “Funny People.” Meanwhile, Carell flailed in big-ticket comedies (“Get Smart” and “Evan Almighty”).

Savor then this perfect moment they shared, and scripted, together — a sex comedy so steadfastly sweet that it didn’t prioritize the many penis jokes with which it’s packed over true characterizations. Oh, and thanks to Carell’s frightening commitment to realistic reactions, it features the most painful hair-removal scene you’ll ever see.

Carell is Andy, whose sexual inexperience becomes a charity case for his three pals (Romany Malco, incomparable comic wingman Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen, in his breakthrough performance). Catherine Keener stars as the one most likely to deflower Andy, but not without a strenuous, revealing courtship.

“The 40-Year-Old Virgin” never laundry-lists its dirty jokes to push buttons and boundaries. Instead, it affords a realistic look at arrested development among all its characters, not just the easy-target title role.

Plus, with an end-credits sequence set to “Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In),” it proved the gleeful exception to the rule that no good movie ends with the cast dancing.

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11 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: The 40-Year-Old Virgin”

  1. […] The 40-Year-Old Virgin “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” — still Steve Carell or Judd Apatow’s best film — continues Nick Rogers’ daily look at the 365 best films of 2000-2009. Continue reading → […]

  2. […] excellent here as empty-headed weatherman Brick, who really enjoys a nice pair of slacks — after “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” star Will Ferrell entered a depressing downward spiral afterward. But this proved Ferrell’s piece […]

  3. Nick Rogers says:

    Bobby: You’re actually a very complex man. Yes, Gerry Bednob is quite enjoyable. Sadly, a lot of HIS dialogue is cut back when the film is shown eight times a month on USA. Also, the "what you did" of which you speak has never been proven in a court of law, so I think you’re treading on dangerous, possibly libelous, ground. You may now return to slapping out infectious percussive rhythms on your chest.

  4. Bobby McFerrin says:

    A great film. Maybe I’m simplistic, but I enjoyed Gerry Bednob’s performance quite a bit. Or maybe it’s the pain of what you did that just won’t go away.

  5. Nick Rogers says:

    lowelife: Yes, I did enjoy "Little Miss Sunshine," but, as is perilously obvious with today’s snow, June is still a few months away. I know plenty of people who enjoyed "Dan in Real Life," but for me, it just felt like one of those pre-fab movie families that’s inexplicably well-off and interacts the way screenwriters, not real families, do. That said, glad you’re enjoying the reviews! And, by the way, you seem awfully familiar, Mr. LOWElife …

    Joe: I think anytime you introduce Dane Cook into the mix, problems will ensue, but that’s just me. I came down from the ledge of putting "Dan" on the worst list, but there’s no love lost between me and that movie. Nail on the head about "Funny People," my friend, and I’m still looking forward to "Date Night," just with reservations.

  6. Joe Shearer says:

    I personally really enjoyed Dan in Real Life, though I know it’s not a popular choice. I found that for its rather typical and pedestrian setup, it took an unusual route to get there. I’m less than the biggest Dane Cook fan in the world, but thought he was perfectly cast for who he was supposed to be. It was to me a rather grown-up romantic comedy that didn’t rely on pratfalls and contrived situations to get where it was going.

    I’d also agree that Funny People is the only Apatow-directed film I didn’t like, and I really loved its first half, until it went off on the "I’m putting my wife and kids into a movie" portion of the show.

    But Nick, agreed on your reservations about Date Night, even though I love Carell (and Little Miss Sunshine of course is tremendous) and I have a total fanboy crush on Tina Fey.

  7. lowelife says:

    Little Miss Sunshine seems like a Carell Film you would have enjoyed, but perhaps not?
    I’m not ashamed to admit I liked watching Dan in Real Life, despite your hatin’.
    I’m enjoying these reviews…but I’m not sure I’ve even seen 365 films this decade, so I’m impressed.

  8. Nick Rogers says:

    Joel: Oh, I haven’t. Both of them are, as you say, too good to suck for too long – although Carell’s films have sucked for some time. To answer your question about "Dan in Real Life," it was reeeeeeally close to ending up on the other list. I’d feel better about Carell’s upcoming "Date Night" (with Tina Fey) if it wasn’t directed by the man behind the "Night at the Museum" films. And "Funny People" is the only Apatow-directed movie I’ve not liked, but it had its moments. As for Kevin Smith, the trailers for "Cop Out" (retitled from "A Couple of Dicks") with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan don’t look promising.

  9. joel connell says:

    don’t count apatow or carrell out just yet. sometimes hot new directors get wooed by the money and make a lot of bad hollywood-ed decisions (i’m still waiting for kevin smith to pull his head out of his…) so for apatow, we’ll have to wait and see, but as for carrell, i really hope he finds more challenging roles (dan in real life? couldn’t finish it, was it any good?) and surrounds himself with casts of the same caliber as 40 year old virgin. he’s too good to suck for too long.

  10. Nick Rogers says:

    You know, USA leaves more of her "wow-that-is-graphic" tub scene intact for cable than I would have thought.

  11. Joe Shearer says:

    Nick, you left out the vivacious Elizabeth Banks as Beth the Sex Kitten.