The title says it all in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a ribald, risqué yet surprisingly warm-hearted vehicle for Steve Carell. Best known for supporting roles in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman and for headlining the US version of The Office, the stocky clown makes an appealing bid for solo stardom as a kindly nerd none too bothered he has yet to pop his cherry. His workmates feel differently, though, initiating the series of humiliating embarrassments that sustain this entertaining, if overlong sex farce.
"I'm a virgin, I always have been," shrugs Andy Stitzer (Carell), a humble dweeb happier re-arranging his toy collection than chasing chicks. And faced with vomit-spewing encounters with intoxicated harpies and painful appointments with Korean chest-waxers, life-long chastity almost seems the better option.
But Andy rethinks his position when he meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a vivacious single mom who has chosen the celibacy that is his by default. We all know they will get together in the end, but director and co-writer Judd Apatow deftly postpones their coitus for maximum comic effect. And along the way he gets plenty of mileage from an appealing supporting cast that includes Jane Lynch from Best in Show and Carell's Anchorman buddy Paul Rudd.
This is essentially a one-joke movie, and it's a joke that wears pretty thin during the tiresomely sentimental second hour. But it's a tribute to all concerned that what is little more than an extended sketch delivers such side-splitting laughs without ever demeaning its unfortunate but also rather admirable protagonist.