Andy Stitzer is a virgin. And he’s 40. Hence the movie’s title. Hmmm, I wonder what could possibly happen next in this should-have-been-rated-NC-17 smutfest.
Despite being surrounded by a trio of oversexed co-workers—David, Jay and Cal—the kindhearted but slightly nerdy Andy has managed to avoid letting anyone know his sexual status … until now. Of course, once his new buddies find out he’s never had sex, they’re consumed with hooking him up with a one-night stand. Andy, however, has other plans. As he begins a relationship with Trish, a 40-year-old single mom (and grandma), he’s content to continue his celibate ways … at least until the 20th date.
Underneath the mile-thick layer of grime in this movie is a hint of virtuousness. Though he all too often follows the continuous, unsolicited misguidance of his friends, Andy eventually realizes that he’s pretty much, half-heartedly, somewhat OK with being a virgin. He’d rather others not know and continues to shy away from telling the truth, yet he’s honestly (in the end) trying to hold out for the right person.
Though far from a model parent, Trish tells her 16-year-old daughter that she doesn’t want her having sex because “I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did.” (At least until she’s in college; that’s the low standard for “waiting” Trish sets up for her daughter.) Andy stands up for Trish’s daughter at a teen sex counseling session when she’s made fun of for being a virgin. “It’s a personal choice,” he says, “and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.” The girl thanks Andy for his support, even though it’s clear she’s desperate to terminate her virginity the first chance she gets.
Amazingly (considering the fact that this is a sex comedy), Andy remains abstinent until his wedding night, honoring—in a very twisted way—the very thing everything and everyone else in the movie relentlessly derides.
A minister conducting a wedding ceremony comments, “For God’s sake, consummate the thing!” During an argument with her daughter, Trish threatens to start taking the family to church again if the girl doesn’t shape up. David recalls feeling as if he and an ex-flame were “one spirit” while having sex.
Pervasive. Never-ending. Extreme to the point of rendering superlatives meaningless. From the opening scene of Andy getting out of bed in his underwear—with an erection���not a minute goes by in which sex doesn’t dominate.
There are explicit clips from porn videos. Graphic stories about bestiality. Sex scenes. Masturbation scenes. Nude scenes. And urination scenes. While speed dating, Andy witnesses his date’s breast pop out of her top (it remains exposed as the camera zooms in). David pulls his pants down and videotapes his backside. Dildos make an appearance. Copulating dogs are shown to emphasize how unnatural Andy’s virgin status is. Two women kiss. Andy fumbles through a mountain of condoms trying to put one on.
In addition to all the raunchy visuals, Virgin is obsessed with obscene sex talk about everything from anal sex to menstrual cycles to STDs to fetishes to prostitution to statutory rape. Female anatomy is discussed (and shown via a medical mold) in detail, as is homosexuality (including a barrage of “You wanna know how I know you’re gay?” jokes). Teens brag about penis size and sexual abilities, while their parents either urge them on or laugh. One father asks a counselor how he can get his wife to do some of the things he’s seen his son’s sexual partners do. Outercourse is advocated. Planned Parenthood-style sex ed is said to have “never hurt anybody.”
Displayed on the big screen TVs at Andy’s electronics store are gory images from the horror flick Dawn of the Dead (they include zombies biting and strangling victims). Likewise, an in-the-background image from The Bourne Identity shows two men fighting. A video game played by David and Cal features a character splitting the torso of an opponent and ripping the head off of another.
Andy twice has major wipeouts while riding his bike. He accidentally kicks a girl in the face during a would-be sexual encounter, bloodying her nose. David half-jokes to his boss about killing customers and burning down the store. Others joke about blowing their brains out.
About 75 f-words, many of which are used sexually. (It should be noted that a teen gets away with screaming the f-word at her mother during an argument.) Then, in addition to 30-odd s-words, Virgin includes more than 50 crude and extremely vulgar terms, bringing the total abuses of the English language close to the 200 mark. Racist language is also thrown in. God’s name is profaned almost 40 times; Jesus’ once.
Andy and his friends and co-workers gather at a bar on a couple of occasions, where alcohol flows freely. Besides lots of beer, daiquiris, martinis and various tropical drinks are consumed as they try to get drunk as fast as they can. The guys celebrate Andy getting a girl’s telephone number by doing several rounds of shots in addition to smoking a bong. Indeed, Andy, David and several women are all shown drunk at various times.
Jay tells Andy that men are genetically wired to “hit on drunk b–ches” and continually urges him to have a sexual fling with an intoxicated woman. (Andy tries, but she throws up on his face and into his mouth before they can get very far.) A woman does a shot off of another woman’s stomach.
A drunk woman gets behind the wheel of a car, swerving in and out of traffic, sideswiping an entire row of parked cars and eventually plowing headfirst into another vehicle. Cal makes numerous references to using and growing pot, and in one scene he smokes a joint while having a beer.
After the drunk woman vomits on Andy, she quips, “At least I don’t have to work out tomorrow.” Andy urinates on himself and also relieves himself (along with the rest of the guys) on a sidewalk. David, Jay and Cal all steal from work. (Jay excuses it by saying, “It’s just CDs.”) Andy lies to Trish and others to hide his virginity.
Jay regularly cheats on his girlfriend. Andy covers up for him on one occasion, making several sexist and racist remarks in the process. When Jay brings in a sonogram video to show his co-workers, he brags about his baby’s penis size and insinuates that his girlfriend accepts his fooling around.
In front of her teen daughter, Trish calls the girl’s younger sister a “mistake.”
Either something’s wrong with me, or something’s very wrong with the rest of the world.
No, that’s not what 40-year-old virgin Andy says to himself right before he’s “outed.” It’s what I’m thinking after realizing that I’m one of the very few film critics out there who isn’t giving The 40-Year-Old Virgin a glowing review.
Michael O’Sullivan of the Washington Post calls the film “filthy, funny and sweet … an excellent date movie.” The New York Daily News‘ Jack Matthews says the script is “so hip, funny and—yes—innocent that it’s never offensive.” Rebecca Murray from about.com sums up the opinion of several critics with this: “Rude and lewd, full of potty humor and penis jokes … the best comedy in years.” Roger Ebert labels it “surprisingly insightful … [with] a good heart and a lovable hero.”
Seriously, did I end up at a different movie? The one I saw was overloaded to the breaking point with vile material—both visual and verbal. Period. Do I now live in a world in which an oxymoron such as “innocently raunchy” can actually exist? Sure, Andy is a sensitive nice-guy who finds occasional contentment in his celibacy in a culture that typically defines happiness by the number of sexual conquests one has. That’s great. But are we to studiously ignore the onslaught of over-the-top foul content that surrounds him?
I understand the subtext here. I do. In a backhanded way, writers Judd Apatow and Steve Carell give props to celibacy by surrounding Andy with ludicrous, sex-crazed friends, neighbors and co-workers. In contrast to these characters’ absurd foolishness, Andy’s convictions (if you can call them that) stand out. The writers even keep him virginal until he’s tied the knot. And they convey the frustrations of every virgin who’s tried to remain unashamed about their celibacy while being bombarded with social messages that mock them.
But none of that—can I make this any clearer?—warrants or redeems The 40-Year-Old Virgin‘s outrageously abusive conversations, actions and situations. “Why does everything have to be about sex?” Andy yells in frustration at one point. My feelings exactly.