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The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005): ***½

Directed by Judd Apatow

You go to a movie like this because you've seen the daily show (or maybe Anchorman) and you think that Steve Carell is funny, and a movie in which he stars, and which has a premise that matches the title of the movie, could conceivably have some laughs in it. It probably won't be the funniest movie you see that year, but it probably won't be terrible.

But you'd be wrong. It would be the funniest movie you'd see that year.

It was very, very difficult to stop laughing during this movie. The whole movie.

The plot revolves around four workers at a Best Buy type of store. Three of them are seemingly regular 30-ish single guys. One day they're short a person for a poker game, and they look to the 40-year-old whom nobody really likes.

The poker scene is an example of the excellent writing in the movie. The guys all start talking about their sexual experiences, and the 40-year-old virgin (heretofore reffered to as 40yov) is asked to contribute. Everything that comes out of his mouth is so weirdly awkward that the other three guys look confused, which makes 40yov panic, so the next thing he says is even more weirdly awkward, which makes the other three guys react even more, which makes 40yov panic even more and say even more weirdly awkward things until the guys know that something is going on and start questioning him, which makes him panic even more and say even more weirdly awkward things until finally a breaking point is reached and one of them realizes that he's a virgin.

There are many excellent scenes like there where each line of dialogue builds on the previous. One that pops instantly into mind is the one where he's told to ask only questions and act like David Caruso in Jade when hitting on the hot chick at the bookstore. Another one is the dinner date with Katherine Keener after their disasterous first date.

Steve Carell (who also co-wrote the movie) somehow always manages to hit the right note in his performance. He's smart, but not terribly observant, wrapped up a little too much in his own little protected world. Katherine Keener plays basically the opposite of her character in Being John Malkovich, and does it absolutely convincingly. The othre three guys at the store could all have been caricatures, but as the story develops they each show more and more depth, albeit in a little bit of a cartoony way sometimes.

Plus, I must give kudos to a film that has a scene in which two characters are playing video games and taking turns telling the other, "You know how I know you're gay? Because..." and each person comes up with more plausible ideas rather than shockingly offensive ones.

The movie is constantly surprising in its comedy, and yet the jokes seem somehow straighforwardly inevitable.

But whatever. You probably won't believe me. You're probably thinking, "Well, it can't be that funny. I couldn't possibly laugh the whole way through the movie."

Just you wait and see...

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