Better Late Than Never.
40-year-old Andy Stitzer (Steve Carrell) has done quite a few things in his life. He’s got a cushy job stamping invoices at an electronics superstore, a nice apartment with a proud collection of action figures and comic books, good friends, a nice attitude. But there’s just one little thing he hasn’t quite gotten around to doing yet–something most people have done by his age. Done a lot. Andy’s never, ever, ever had sex–not even by accident. So is that such a big deal?
Well, for Andy’s buds at the store, it sure is. Although they think he’s a bit of an oddball, there’s certainly a planetful of stranger (and homelier) guys who’ve at least had one go at having a go. They consider it their duty to help Andy out of his dire situation and go to great lengths to help him. But nothing proves effective enough to lure their friend out of lifelong chastity until he meets Trish (Catherine Keener), a 40-year-old mother of three. Andy’s friends are psyched by the possibility that “it” may finally happen…until they hear that Andy and Trish have begun their relationship based on a mutual no-sex policy.
Over the past few years, Steve Carell has slyly and hilariously stolen scenes and created lasting impressions in a number of film and television comedies: unleashing a torrent of gobbledy-gook jibberish from behind the news desk in Bruce Almighty… blinking vacantly and delivering quotable non sequiturs as simple weatherman Brick Tamland in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy… inheriting the comic legacy of the hit British television series The Office in the stateside version… and branding his trademark mock stoicism on a series of correspondent reports for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Now, Carell fulfills his comedic promise by stepping into his first lead role as Andy Stitzer, the title character in the uproarious new film The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Judd Apatow-whose credits include Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Kicking & Screaming, The Cable Guy and the beloved television series Freaks and Geeks-makes his feature film directing debut with The 40 Year-Old Virgin, co-writing the script with Carell.
To round out the cast, Apatow has assembled a true ensemble, gathering some of his longtime comedic collaborators, including Paul Rudd (Anchorman, P.S.), Romany Malco (Churchill: The Hollywood Years, The Tuxedo) and Seth Rogen (Donnie Darko, Freaks and Geeks) as Andy’s co-workers, who make it their mission to end his four-decade dry spell. Joining this funnymen boys’ club are Elizabeth Banks (Spider-Man 2, Seabiscuit) as Beth, the up-for-anything bookstore clerk who might just click Andy’s personal love odometer from 0 to 1.
Leslie Mann (Orange County, George of the Jungle) as the inebriated Nicky, who is a sure thing for Andy…until she has to drive him home; and Catherine Keener (The Interpreter, Being John Malkovich) as Trish, the quirky and affable woman who works across the way and finally sees Andy as more than just an untouched curiosity.
The 40 Year-Old Virgin charts one sweet guy’s odyssey from never-done-it to been-there-done-that as he follows disastrous, but well-meaning advice, endures oh-so-close escapades and almost gives up in search of the one chance that will satisfy his long-delayed gratification.
Feels Like the First Time
The idea for a comedic take on a sweet-natured but middle-aged virgin-who, through the well-meaning but misguided efforts of his co-workers, begins an unforgettable educational journey toward the goal of finally “doing it”-came from the artfully twisted mind of Steve Carell.
Based in part on a sketch he created years ago while performing with the improvisational comedy troupe Second City, Carell continued to resurrect the idea over the years, trying out different scenarios for the 40 year-old man with a big secret. Perhaps best known for his sidesplitting appearances on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show and breakout performances in Bruce Almighty and Anchorman, the Second City alum knew he had an interesting premise in this unique middle-aged coming-of-age story.
Carell first met Judd Apatow, an award-winning comedy writer and television writer/producer, while filming the box office hit Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, which Apatow produced. Carell, realizing they possessed similar comic sensibilities, shared his idea of the over-the-hill loner who remains a virgin at 40. At the time, Apatow was actively looking for a film project to direct and was charmed and excited about Carell’s pitch.
“I always keep my eyes open for the next funny guy who can carry a movie,” recalls Apatow, “and it was very clear that Steve Carell was stealing scenes in Anchorman. So I just let him know if he had any ideas to let me know. He told me a few, all of which were very funny, but this one made me laugh the most.”
Remarks Carell, “Judd Apatow is no novice. He has a really good eye for what potentially could work and what might not work. I was flattered that he took such an immediate interest in my idea, let alone wanted to team up with me and direct it.”
Apatow saw endless comedic potential in the project. In his mind, “40 year-old virgin” said it all. He in turn pitched the idea to Universal Pictures, where he was producing the Will Ferrell comedy Kicking & Screaming. The studio was very enthusiastic about the concept and gave the pair the go-ahead on the script.
Apatow and Carell spent several months working effortlessly together fleshing out the idea. They soon had a cohesive, inherently funny story rife with bawdy gems that had readers laughing out loud…before a little self-imposed propriety kicked in.
Remarks Apatow, “I’m a big fan of all the R-rated movies of the late ’70s and early ’80s like The Jerk and Animal House. They weren’t actually that dirty, but they didn’t have the handcuffs on either, and it made for an unrestrained type of comedy. I wanted to set the stage to really have fun and not have any limits to what we could say or do. What that does for this movie is that it makes it feel real…if people can curse the way they do in life. It all feels a little more like life and a little less like a film. I think it served the story well…plus it was fun to write.”
Although a film titled The 40 Year-Old Virgin screams sex comedy, the pair made a concerted effort to balance the obvious sexual aspects of the material with compelling, grounded (along with some off-the-wall) characters.
“Although The 40 Year-Old Virgin seems to be about finding a way to have sex,” observes Apatow, “it’s really all about these people who are looking for the love of their lives and struggling to find happiness during this pursuit.” That formula gave Apatow and Carell more free reign in terms of where they went with the often outlandish bits.
The project’s major appeal hinged on the boyishly handsome Carell, portraying the title character, and his ability to dissolve an audience into laughter with his myriad of facial expressions and innate physicality. This was coupled with his and Apatow’s skill in locating the humor within both the mundane and the outrageous with equal measure and infusing that comedic sensibility throughout the story’s various situations.
Universal’s production team also saw the possibilities and, to Carell’s mild disbelief, green-lit the project a week after it was submitted, placing it firmly on the fast track. Carell, who serves as an executive producer in addition to his writing and acting duties, remarks,“The writing process was fairly easy, but the process of being green-lit so quickly was pretty amazing. It’s kind of unheard of. This was my first screenplay, so I’m a little spoiled at this point. People work on movies for years and sometimes wait another couple of years to get it produced. We were really fortunate.”
Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Screenplay by: Judd Apatow, Steve Carell
Release Date: August 19th, 2005
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive sexual content, language and some drug use.
Box Office: $109,449,237 (US total)
Studio: Universal Pictures