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MOVIE REVIEW 'Virgin' puts out big laughs



Published: Thu, August 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's a tad too long but hilarious in spots.

By CHRIS HEWITT

KNIGHT RIDDER NEWSPAPERS

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" doesn't have room for a woman in his life. Where would he put his action figures and video games?

As played by Steve Carell (star of the American TV version of "The Office"), the title character is a sweet, lonely guy whose fastidiousness extends to not only cooking elaborate meals for himself but also garnishing them. Andy goes out occasionally -- including a hopeless date with a bulldozer played by Minneapolis native Mo Collins -- but he has never felt like getting horizontal until he meets an off-kilter knockout played by Catherine Keener, who has a gift for sounding like she's surprised by everything that comes out of her own mouth.

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin" resembles last month's "Wedding Crashers" in at least three ways: It's hilarious, it's sex-obsessed and it's 15 minutes longer than it needs to be. There are dead spots in "Virgin," but I was willing to check my watch a few times because the good parts are so good. For instance, a scene in which Andy becomes an unwilling co-pilot in a demolition derby, with an inebriated date at the wheel, is the stuff of classic comedy -- the laughs build momentum until they push the movie into the humor equivalent of turbo drive.

Funny scenes

There are several very funny scenes in "Virgin," most of them involving Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen and Romany Malco as Andy's co-workers, who are as unqualified to give romantic advice as they are eager to dispense it. Where the movie gets into trouble is attempting to integrate that stuff with the sweetly PG-rated Carell/Keener romance, which is not a great fit with the R-rated horniness that makes the movie distinctive.

You get the sense that the folks behind "Virgin" tried to, but couldn't, figure out how to make those two halves into one whole. And you sense that by the time they got to the end -- an anti-climax, followed by a musical number that has nothing to do with anything but at least sends us out with a smile -- they simply stopped trying.




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