A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is focused on a man's effort to lose his virginity. To that end, it leans heavily on verbal jokes and sight gags related to sex: crude slang for sexual activity, genitals, erections, bodily fluids, breasts, and dildos. By way of example: the first joke has to do with a woman having sex with a horse, though the language is much coarser and repetitive. The virgin and his three male coworkers/friends spend most of their time talking about sex, showing off or complaining about their conquests. They make homophobic remarks, go to bars and parties, ogle women (at one point, they see two girls kiss), play violent video games and watch violent (Dawn of the Dead ) and pornographic movies. Women wear revealing outfits (one shows a nipple during a speed-date conversation), drink, drive badly, and throw up. Characters drink repeatedly, smoke pot, and curse frequently; one smokes cigarettes when he's depressed and another spends long minutes trying to put on a condom. Soundtrack features songs about sex and sexual desire (for instance, Missy Elliot's "Get Ur Freak On").
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Embarrassed that he's still a virgin at 40, nerdy Andy (Steve Carell) only confesses to his electronics store co-workers -- David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Weeds' Romany Malco), and Cal (Seth Rogen) -- when they guess the (obvious) truth during a late-night card game. As all share boastful stories about their sexual experiences, he lets slip his unfamiliarity with female body parts and they make it their mission to help him "get laid." They're soon joined by other Smart Tech employees, including Mooj (Gerry Bednob) and Haziz (Shelley Malil), vehicles for ethnic stereotype jokes.
Is it any good?
A one-joke movie, THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN follows the tedious pattern of other recent boy-man movies: crude comedy leads to quaint romantic resolution. (This resolution has the cast performing numbers from Hair, layering sardonic and psychedelic onto quaint.)
For all its raunchiness, however, the movie (like Wedding Crashers, like Adam Sandler's work) ultimately and predictably endorses very traditional values, even suggesting that boy-men embody such values in themselves (and really, bungling men just need to be nurtured by accommodating, self-sacrificing women). Andy's really a nice guy waiting to be found out. And poor Trish (and Marla) only have to figure out how to service him.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about virginity as a "choice."
How does the movie make the case that, despite his friends' ribbing and his own embarrassment, the virgin represents a kind of romantic ideal, an earnest, awkward, sensitive man in search of a life partner?
Why is it significant that all the different men at the store -- Jewish, black, Pakistani, Caucasian -- behave equally badly around women? How does the movie represent women as peripheral or comic objects in relation to the self-centered but also sympathetic male characters?
How does Andy's dilemma serve as a metaphor for other, more often acknowledged forms of insecurity?
How does Andy learn to appreciate his difference, even as he tries so hard to "fit in"?