"Virgin" proves to be much more than a one-joke concept, with biting humor and a sweet-natured edge that serves as the perfect vehicle for "Daily Show" alum Steve Carell (who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Judd Apatow).
Carell plays Andy - a 40-year-old content with working at an electronics store, collecting action figures and keeping to himself. When co-workers discover that Andy is still a virgin, they set out to help him lose his virginity.
During the process Andy meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a single mother who helps Andy realize that sex isn't the only thing to a relationship.
At its core, Andy and Trish's relationship is a sweet and honest exchange between two interesting people. Carell and Keener (who may be one of the most underrated actresses today) have nice chemistry that is missing in a lot of romantic comedies.
But that relationship is surrounded by a very raunchy, yet funny, adult comedy. Like the slightly funnier "Wedding Crashers," "Virgin" takes glee in its R-rating with some salty dialogue and a couple of outrageous moments - including a musical number performed by the entire cast during the closing credits.
Still, Apatow (who also created the short-lived TV series "Freaks and Geeks") and Carell clearly appreciate their subject matter and never opt to take the obvious cheap route to get a laugh.
The supporting cast provides most of the film's funniest moments - including Leslie Mann as a drunk date that quickly spins out of control and Romany Malco as one of several co-workers who keeps giving Andy unsolicited advice.
"Virgin" does feel a little long, clocking in at just under two hours, but it is a forgivable offense. In a month that has already included trash like "The Dukes of Hazzard" and "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," it's nice to have a comedy that is actually funny.
Discount dandy of the week
This week's dandy is "Crash" (A-) an honest and open look at racism from multiple angles.
Borrowing from the formula that worked so well in "Magnolia" and "Short Cuts," "Crash" follows several intersecting stories over a 36-hour period in Los Angeles.
Two of the almost half a dozen stories involve a district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his wife (Sandra Bullock) dealing with a car-jacking and a young L.A. cop (Ryan Phillippe) tested when his partner (Matt Dillon) commits a heinous act during a traffic stop of an black couple (Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard).
Each story has one common element - the underlying racist attitudes in all the characters. The beauty of "Crash" is that everything isn't cut and dry. Characters are flawed in one scene, yet manage to do something amazing and heroic in the next. Writer/ director Paul Haggis (who also wrote the screenplay for "Million Dollar Baby") doesn't use the film as a soap box; instead he opts to let it play out and let the audience decide.
"Crash" isn't without its flaws - the biggest is the running time. Clocking in at 105 minutes, some resolutions seemed forced, especially the subplot involving Newton. You can also argue that there are a few too many coincidences, but I found those instances to be fascinating and they didn't feel forced or contrived.
This isn't a film for everyone. "Crash" demands your attention and really makes you think. It's a special film that is clearly among the best I have seen this year.
As a side note, former Russellville resident Ian Noe helped produce some of the movie's visual effects and his name is flashed in the ending credits. Noe also is a visual effects producer for "Cave."
"Crash" opens Friday at the Plaza 6, where all movies are $1.50.
- Sportswriter/ movie reviewer Micheal Compton is lonely. After spending most of the summer in a darkened theater, he has yet to get any feedback about his reviews. Help him out of his depression and e-mail him at email@example.com. We promise he'll only stalk you for about six weeks and then he'll move on.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin
Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener
Director: Judd Apatow
Rating: R for pervasive sexual content, language and some drug use
Playing at: Great Escape 12, Highland Cinemas (Glasgow)