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The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Andy Stitzer (Steve Carell) enjoys a comfortable life as a single man, complete with the sort of bachelor pad that would make a 12-year-old boy seethe with envy — vintage action-figures in original packaging line his shelves, and the central piece of furniture in his living room is a video-game chair with built-in joysticks and surround sound. Perhaps Andy isn't all that different from so many other men heading into middle age but still clinging to the safety of youthful innocence. Then again, perhaps he needs to get laid. His friends think so — David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco), and Cal (Seth Rogen) are Andy's co-workers at big-box electronics retailer SmartTech, where Andy happily gets by as a stockroom clerk. But after a night of poker with the boys, complete with a few raunchy sex stories, Andy inadvertently lets it slip that he's a virgin. It's only a matter of time before his trio of guardian angels make a pact to get him through one of life's most monumental thresholds. Thus, 40-year-old Andy is dragged into the sort of pre-adult initiations most people experience somewhere between high school and college: chatting up drunk girls in bars, and learning the right "strategies" for successful mating. But the modern world throws a few added twists his way, including a chest wax, speed-dating, a transvestite hooker, and a box of porno tapes that's supposed to get him in the right frame of mind. Nonetheless, Andy can't help wondering about a shopkeeper across the street from SmartTech — Trish (Catherine Keener) practically forced her phone number on him, and while he thinks the best thing to do would be to ask her out, the boys insist he should get a notch on his belt before hooking up with Ms. Right.

The second comedy blockbuster of the lackluster 2005 film year, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin managed — along with Wedding Crashers — to re-establish the raunch-com as one of Hollywood's most surefire genres, harking back to such sex comedies as Animal House and Porky's, and coming up with some harmless fun thanks to a bit of nudity and scatological dialogue thicker than the San Diego phone book. The film served as an overdue breakout vehicle for star Steve Carell, who's moved up over the years from FedEx commercials to "The Daily Show" to supporting work for Jim Carrey (Bruce Almighty) and currently a weekly lead on NBC-TV's The Office. As Carell's 2005 appearance on "Saturday Night Live" underscored, he's very much arrived, now able to command Will Ferrell-sized paychecks for feature work. But that fresh ink on the A-list also belies just how much The 40-Year-Old-Virgin is an ensemble piece. Director/co-writer Judd Apatow, along with Carell (who co-wrote), assembled a dynamite supporting cast who could do more than read funny lines — as a wealth of deleted material on this DVD release reveals, co-stars Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, and Seth Rogen bring a lot to the playing field, and much of the profanity-laden dialogue sounds unpredictable simply because a very clever cast is pushing the material as far as they can take it while the camera's still rolling. Virgin won't be to everyone's tastes, although common sense dictates that folks expecting a PG-rated family comedy need not start here. Even then, the film's second act freewheels into a sort of loopy rom-com territory, and the budding romance between Carell and Catherine Keener reveals that even a movie that doubles as a rapid-fire thesaurus for sexual genitalia can have a heart — and does.

*          *          *

Universal's DVD release of The 40-Year-Old Virgin offers a flawless anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. And while the "Unrated" cut offered on the DVD doesn't appear to have anything on board that wouldn't get past the MPAA, it does extend the film's theatrical running time of 1 hr. 56 min. with an additional 16 minutes of material, making it far more appealing that the cheap dodge of slapping "Unrated!" on a DVD that offers a few seconds of new footage. However, it must be noted that the "Bonus Features" menu is poorly designed, beginning with a "Play All" link and an option to listen to commentary by director/co-writer Judd Apatow and co-star/co-producer Seth Rogen. The subsequent "Deleted Scenes" link then leads to a submenu offering six deleted scenes with the identical play-all and commentary links. Back on the Bonus Features pages, three alternate scenes (with optional commentary) are not helpfully labeled as such, but can be determined as "alternate" (rather than "deleted"), since they are mostly improvisational riffs taken from scenes in the film itself. Nonetheless, placing these under the "Deleted Scenes" link is less than helpful, making for one of the worst-designed DVDs in recent memory. The second Bonus screen offers a "Waxing Doc," which reveals that one of the film's most notable scenes was not fake and involved honest-to-goodness pain on the part of Mr. S. Carell. Also included is an alternate version of the speed-dating scene (9 min.), a montage of excised lines (6 min.), and "My Dinner with Stormy" featuring Seth Rogen and porn star Stormy Daniels (2 min.), while a gag reel rounds out the set (2 min.) A feature-length commentary with Apatow, star Steve Carell, and cast members can be accessed either from the Bonus Features section or the Languages menu. Keep-case.

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