Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Tonight David and I went on an actual DATE! This is the closest thing to married life we've experienced other than having dinner in a restaurant last night for the first time in at least four weeks. David was well enough to go to the cinema for the first time since we saw "Me and You and Everyone We Know" two months ago, and we were finally able to see...

The 40 Year Old Virgin (Click here for the Apple trailer, here for the official site)

As usual, David has finished writing his review, and Slow-As-Molasses-Gail is still formulating her first paragraph. Yay, more Married-Couple activity: His and Her Reviews.

/speaking in third person

Honestly, I thought it would be funny, but I had no idea it would be THIS funny. Steve Carell hits the mark as the film's protagonist, the nice but lonely guy who's basically given up on dating women and losing his virginity after some major misfires. (I tried to spare you all the euphemisms, but I'm weak.) But then his buddies try and get him laid, of course. "Hilarity ensues" is usually how it goes on the back of the rental box. It's been done before, but not this well.

Last night I was considering seeing "In Her Shoes", but it reeked too much of "chick flick", for my tastes. (I do love Toni Collette, though.) Shopping for wedding lingerie was enough estrogen exposure to last me a decade. When I'd heard Cameron Diaz would be prancing about in her knickers, I told David, "Let's wait and see 'The 40 Year Old Virgin' tomorrow, instead."

Don't get me wrong, there's definitely scantily-clad women in "Virgin", but one of its biggest draws is how issues of sexuality are portrayed in this film, taking the stereotypes --
  • the nice guy who can't get women
  • the bad guy who gets all the women
  • the sensitive guy who can't seem to get over his last breakup
-- and turning them into people you can relate to, and putting them into situations that are familiar.

Then, there's the profile of the classic male virgin:
  • geeky guy
  • collects odd things
  • plays video games
  • no fashion sense
  • socially awkward
Now that I'm a married woman betrothed to a self-admitted Geeky Guy, I can state without impunity that there is a strong element of truth to this second list. The best comedies are those that play with stereotypical characters and give them sharp, believable dialogue, not just slapschtick. Steve Carell delivers the Geeky Guy without being SO geeky that he's the fringe of the fringe, a cartoon character. He's not stupid, he's not ugly, he's not antisocial. He has opportunities, but he has a tendency to choose avoidance when faced with a difficult situation. That's all too familiar, and it's the strength of the writing (Carell is co-writer) that rates "Virgin" much higher in this genre* than, say, "Hitch" (which I saw on a plane and slept through about half of it).

The thing is, everyone's been a virgin at some point in life. It's the one thing you WANT to lose, and never want back. When's the last time you heard someone say around the water cooler, "Oh, those days of innocence! *deep sigh* What I wouldn't give to be a virgin again!"?

One of my favourite scenes in the film is where our protagonist, Andy, is made painfully aware of how EVERYONE IS DOING IT. He can't escape sex -- sexy images on the side of the bus, dogs having sex in the park. The Ultimate Social Stigma is shoved in his face at every turn. Virginity or being without a partner is touted as a disease by every media available, and no matter how many advantages there are to the single life, there is that ONE THING MISSING. Everyone is doing it except YOU! Hypersensitivity kicks in. It's like being 16 years old and carless, unable to see anything but a world of 16-year olds driving cars. Perception becomes reality.

Since we're 30-somethings, David and I are in the perfect demographic to appreciate the details in the film. I don't know if people in their 20s will recognise all the cultural references, or even the music. But no matter how long ago one's virginity has been lost, genuine laughs far outnumber the cheap ones.

* Speaking of genre, there needs to be a category called "Dysfunctional Family", right after "Documentary" and "Drama". Seriously, Netflix. Before "Virgin", we sat through trailer after trailer of films about families in various states of disarray. Oh yeah, American Thanksgiving is next month. And you can't exactly take Granny to see "Doom" on Boxing Day, can you? (That's December 26 for you non-Canadians/Brits/Kiwis/Aussies; a national holiday.)