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THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN

Starring: Steve Carell, Catherine Keener and Paul Rudd
Director: Judd Appatow
Rated: MA15+

STEVE Carell had a wonderful scene-stealing role in Bruce Almighty as the television anchor whose delivery was ruined by Jim Carrey.

He also did a funny turn as a weatherman in Anchorman.

Americans have seen him do stand-up comedy and star in the US version of The Office on television.

Americans would not be surprised to see his versatility in The 40 Year Old Virgin. For non-Americans, it may be a happy surprise.

Audiences with an eye to moral tone might well hold their breath wondering what a sex comedy with this title is going to deliver.

It should be said that some of the jokes stretch the envelope, as they say, and have a potential for offending sensibilities.

On the other hand, I was taught a long time ago, that everything finite, everything human could be the subject of humour, otherwise we put it on a pedestal and its becomes an idol.

Given that proviso about the verbal humour, this film is quite surprising in its values stances.

While his friends, who work in the electronics shop with him in the San Fernando Valley, mock his celibate life and are determined to do their best to change the situation as might be expected, the points that the film makes are very different.

It shows that celibacy and virginity can be choices, that these choices should be respected, that we certainly struggle in finding authentic love and relationships and many wallow in sex, that ultimately we need to find the right person, commit in love to that person and rejoice in children.

Underlying this comedy and its raunchiness are what we call traditional values. It would be a pity to get lost in the superficiality of the sex jokes and so miss the deeper point.

Steve Carell, who co-wrote the screenplay, has the opportunity to play Andy as a somewhat Forrest Gump-like innocent, trying to impress and shock the boys at poker, as well as being a sensible man who makes choices – and doing a lot of impersonations of nice and obnoxious characters along the way.

He and his workmates, Paul Rudd, Romany Malco and Seth Rogen, also do some improvising on their journey from lewdness to ordinariness.

Catherine Keener is the middle-aged woman who sees what is true and good in Andy.

Along with The Wedding Crashers, which also combines the ribald with old-fashioned love, The 40 Year Old Virgin touched a nerve with American audiences who gave them box office success – and not just for the sex jokes.

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