Carell's jittery white-guy anti-hipness is amusing, but the character doesn't track. First Andy is a half-bordering-on-quarter-wit who doesn't even know how a condom works, and then he's a savvy charmer. He could certainly contain multitudes, but it seems more likely that Carell (and Apatow) were too impatient (and proud?) to ring endless variations on his cretinousness or come up with yet more sadistic sight sags. (The requisite pain set piece here revolves around a hairy chest waxing and ejaculatory expletives.)
They also follow studio dictates and edge The 40-Year-Old Virgin into the realm of the corny and sincere. Catherine Keener shows up as a been-around-the-block mom who, for no discernible reason, instantly falls for Andy. This could be the movie's can-you-top-this absurdity, but Keener is such a smart, grounded, and soulful actress that she makes you believe it. She even makes you believe that it wouldn't be so bad to lose one's virginity at 40 if you could lose it to her.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin is too long, too sexist, and too—shall we say—flaccid. But it has its moments. The big, bushy comic Seth Rogen * is hilariously matter-of-fact as he details assorted acts of sex and bestiality. And there's a riotous sequence in which Andy's buddies introduce him to a surefire conquest—an outrageous alcoholic played to the hilt by Leslie Mann (the wife of the director). She and Andy climb into her car for the ultimate Don't Try This at Home, Kids drunk-driving scene. Even Cillian Murphy would abandon all hope with this babe.
Update: For mo', better thoughts on The 40-Year-Old Virgin, click here.
* Correction, August 29, 2005: In an earlier version of this story, the name of the actor Seth Rogen was misspelled "Seth Rogan."
TODAY IN SLATE
The Democrats’ War at Home
How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?
Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best
Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke
A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking
Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10
Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.
How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.
You Deserve a Pre-cation
The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.