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

by on January 7, 2010
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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.