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Feels like the first time - The 40 Yr Old Virgin

Getting it on with The 40 Year-Old Virgin

The 40 Year-Old Virgin is an uninhibited epic of performance anxiety, but it doesn't get aroused only by gags about upchucked daiquiris, chest hair removal and the hazards of "morning wood." The raunchy comedy has more than sex on the brain. The 40 Year-Old Virgin celebrates the pleasures of the flesh as a healthy part of life while tweaking the juvenile hang-ups of both genders. OK, mostly juvenile male hang-ups, but women get teased, too.

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Andy (Steve Carell), a stock supervisor at a big electronics store, enters his fourth decade in a state of arrested development. Never having put away his childish things, he rides a bicycle, plays videogames, rigorously schedules his TV viewing and never does anything carnal — not even with himself. Carell, best known as one of "The Daily Show's" brilliant team of fake journalists, initially makes Andy a grinning man-child who's half Norman Bates, half Mr. Rogers.

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When Andy's co-workers learn he's never been with a woman, they vow to help him "bust that first nut," as self-styled ladies' man Jay (Romany Malco) so delicately puts it. Acerbic young pothead Cal (Seth Rogen), frustrated white-collar drudge David (Paul Rudd) and Jay initially treat getting Andy laid like a macho hazing ritual, but they gradually become genuine friends. Fortune hilariously conspires against Andy's deflowering, but he comes out of his shell in other ways, from on-the-job success to learning to drunkenly pee outdoors.

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Co-writers Carell and director Judd Apatow apply unexpected wit to a premise that could all too easily fit a Rob Schneider vehicle. Andy's efforts to "get in the game" lead to sketch-sized encounters at a speed-dating session, a boozy bachelorette party, and a health center's abstinence session. Overflowing with jokes about condoms, pornography and masturbation, The 40 Year-Old Virgin is dirty, but justly so. It needs a little frankness to air both our culture's obsession with sex and the confusion it engenders.

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Compared to the seemingly endless spate of "Frat Pack comedies" — defined as any film with two or more of the actors Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughan and the Wilson brothers — The 40 Year-Old Virgin proves admirably grounded. It takes place in pretty much the real world, and not some kitschy version of the 1970s. Starting with Andy's place of business — a HiFi Buys clone with Michael McDonald constantly warbling on DVD — the characters live amid the same big-box blandness where the vast majority of us shop, work and play. The film rolls its eyes at the same generic Americana that earned the more modest Office Space such a lasting following.

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In a good-natured goof on the modern zeitgeist, Andy falls for Trish (Catherine Keener), a single mom who runs a store called We Sell Your Stuff on eBay. There's a hilarious, all-too-credible moment when a walk-in shopper can't understand why Trish won't just accept cash for a pair of shoes on display.

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At nearly two hours, Virgin could be 15 minutes shorter without suffering, but its willingness to ramble provides part of the charm. When the guys insult each other with the running joke, "Know how I know you're gay?" the script and actors show a keen sense of male bonding through creative insult (and without gay-bashing intent).

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In a dumber, more conventional movie, David would become Andy's too-slick rival for the hand of Trish. Instead, David remains hung up on his ex-girlfriend and enters a downward spiral until he realizes that Andy's celibacy might be the wiser lifestyle. Meanwhile, Andy strikes a wary friendship with Trish's teenage daughter, who's impatient to become sexually active. The short, sweet subplot lets Andy and the daughter find common ground by advocating abstinence, without going all Dr. Laura on us.

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Carell tracks Andy's evolution from anesthetized geek to misguided Casanova to confident, centered soul. But he's often funniest in the out-of-character moments, like when he adopts African-American slang to argue with Jay's girlfriend.

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The movie draws parallels between Andy's sexuality and his voluminous collection of action figures: If he keeps it in the original packaging, it might increase in value, but he'll never know the joy of playing with it. No one will mistake The 40 Year-Old Virgin for a serious, good-sex message film like Kinsey, but it reaches a surprisingly potent point. By the end, Andy's relationships with women show more respect and maturity than any of his horndog buddies'.

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The 40 Year-Old Virgin goes out on one of its biggest laughs, and you appreciate Apatow and Carell's restraint at saving the most uproarious sequence until the end. What better way to demonstrate that some things are worth waiting for?