It's easy to identify the moment when those of delicate sensibilities will start heading for the exits. That's when the hussy he has picked up in a singles bar suddenly vomits all over The 40 Year-Old Virgin's virgin. Those who remain in their seats will probably be 18 years old, male and probably no more sexually competent than Andy, the character Steve Carell (who co-wrote the movie with director Judd Apatow) rather sweetly plays.
There are enough moviegoers of that ilk idling about in late summer to make this low-budget picture a hit. That, however, is not quite the whole story here. Yes, the dialogue is reliably obscene, not to say misogynistic, homophobic and not reproducible in these genteel pages. But it is often--how one hates to admit this--funny in its deplorable way. And truth be told, there is also something curiously innocent about the movie.
Andy clerks in an electronics store, and his co-workers (Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogen)--once they discover his chaste condition--become determined to cure it. But although they are experienced, they're not what anyone would call mature. No less than Andy, they live in fear of women, although they express it as contempt. Emotional virgins, they would be incapable of offering, as he does, a plausible and rather wistful little speech about how he happened to give up in his efforts to woo and win girls. (Instead he has built up a world-class collection of action figures, "all in their original boxes.") Luckily, Trish (the sublimely sensible Catherine Keener), who works in a store across the street, demonstrates a modest interest in Andy, and their shy, halting relationship begins lifting Virgin out of the realm of raunch toward something resembling romantic comedy.
That isn't easy. Trish has some issues of her own, and preternatural amounts of patience are required before they finally consummate their union. Apatow, who was largely responsible for television's cult hit Freaks and Geeks and did all right with last year's Anchorman, has something of a magician's skill with misdirection. The film's core audience gets all the vulgarity it could possibly require. But adults with reflexes quick enough to shut their eyes and cover their ears when they feel the stupidity coming on may, from time to time, feel a twinge of amused compassion for this ensemble of doofuses. --By Richard Schickel