Note: Earlier I reviewed a screener copy of this film. With a finalized retail version of the release in my hands, I have updated the video, audio and extras sections. As for the film itself, my opinion and accompanying write-up remains unchanged.
When it comes to comedies, I like to think of myself as an easy mark. It really doesn't take much to make me laugh. Even sub-par comedies are usually good for a few chuckles out of me. I'm telling you this so you can fully appreciate what I have to say next. The 41 Year Old Virgin (I refuse to type out the incredibly stupid name) is not a good movie no matter how you define good or movie. It's not even so bad that it's good. It's so bad that it's actually just plain bad. After some mildly amusing opening text credits, I sat stone-faced through the entire running time of the film. My one and only true laugh came during a gag played over the end credits.
There are so many lowlights to this movie that I almost don't even know where to start.
As with other mashup parodies before it, the title of the film is a pretty clear indicator of the other (infinitely better) movies it cribs its plotline from. Although there are elements of Knocked Up and Superbad present in the film, it mostly relies on The 40 Year Old Virgin and Forgetting Sarah Marshall to get from point A to point B. Imagine if Leslie Mann's puke-prone character from the 40 Year Old Virgin got impregnated by one of Steve Carell's friends but thought the baby was Steve's. Now imagine that Leslie and Steve morphed into Sarah Marshall's Kristen Bell and Jason Segel. Tack on a few actors who look like the Superbad boys and a few birthing scenes and you get this film.
I wasn't sure it was possible to make the Friedberg / Seltzer (Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans) model of parody look daring and bold but director Craig Moss and his writing partner Brad Kaaya have accomplished just that. The problems start with the very foundation of the film. While Friedberg and Seltzer are guilty of taking popular movies and skewering them with repetitive Paris Hilton jokes, I have to (grudgingly) give them credit for at least stretching themselves by relying on non-comedic source material. Moss and Kaaya take this idea and strip away its only layer of abstraction by using Judd Apatow's comedies (for the most part) as their joke fodder. The issue with this is that Apatow's movies were already funny. Taking a good joke, removing its punch line and replacing it with a fart noise while you soil yourself can't possibly make it better. This brings me to my other major concern. The vast majority of what passes for humor in this film consists of pee jokes, semen jokes, dildo jokes, racist jokes and disability jokes. While I love a good pee joke as much as the next guy (the dinner scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels springs to mind), a poorly told joke just tends to sit there like a stinky turd that nobody wants to clean up. Moss and Kaaya don't seem to understand this because they repeatedly push unfunny setups far past their breaking point. Scenarios that should evoke shocked laughter fall flat and then slide into utter boredom without an iota of grace.
As I was watching this film, I sincerely felt bad for most of the cast. While they eventually go down with the ship, I could see a number of them bailing out bucketfuls of water with their game portrayal of one-dimensional characters. Bryan Callen is a MADtv veteran and was the main reason I wanted to check out this movie in the first place. He plays the character of the Carell / Segel hybrid relatively straight and accepts the indignities piled upon him with enviable ease. Mircea Monroe gives the Mann / Bell character a dash of gleeful lunacy that makes me want to watch her in better films. I also want to give kudos to one of the Superbad character clones found here. Steven Sims gives an uncanny performance as the Jonah Hill character. Some physical similarities and his spot-on impression of Hill's vocal mannerisms had me doing a double-take when I first saw him.
I know it sounds like I've been really harsh with this film but I can't escape the feeling that it is a massive miscalculation. Once you get past the gross-out gags and try to really break down the comedic appeal of this film, you're left scratching your head. It's a hollow experience that is sadly devoid of charm and energy. I firmly believe that if one of your friends were to come up to you and recommend this film, you should be legally permitted to punch them in the throat before removing them from your Fave 5 (Is that still a thing? I'm not sure since my cellphone is so old it still has a rotary dial). Now if you'll excuse me, I need to massage away any remaining memories of this film with a ball-peen hammer.
The next featurette is an incredibly informative one as it covers The Business of Gags (20:50). It is dedicated to revealing the design decisions that had to be considered during the development of many of the practical effects employed throughout the film. Prop Master Jonathan Buchanan and Assistant Prop Master John Calderon gamely walk us through 15 different props and effects. They range from hard to find props like Andy's chastity belt to secret formulas for making vomit and semen look real onscreen. Apparently, whipped topping is one of the main components of movie semen. Enjoy that little nugget of trivia when you order your next slice of pie.
Being Jonah Hill (4:58) is a short piece that shows how Steven Sims, a relative unknown, landed a role in the film based on his striking resemblance to Jonah Hill. We also get to see a few scenes from his short film Destroying Jonah Hill. Based on a hilarious line from that short film, I look forward to seeing Sims in other projects. Bryan Callen: Internet Sex Deity (3:52) is another featurette centered on one of the cast members. This is a fairly funny bit about Callen's amorous fan following based on his shirtless Pool Boy character from Cabana Chat on MADtv. Callen is an exceptionally good sport as other cast members take turns reading his creepy fan mail aloud to the camera. The final extra is the least entertaining because it partially relinquishes control back to Moss and Kaaya. The Teaser: How They Got the Movie Made (5:18) explains how this film got financial backing on the basis of an amateur teaser trailer with no real script to speak of. We are then treated to that unfunny teaser which makes me think that some movies are just born bad.
Once again, I want to give kudos to Filter Films for trying their darndest to give this abysmal release a few redeeming characteristics. I'm not sure their work is enough to recommend this film but if you end up with this DVD in your hands, save yourself some time and just watch the extra features. You can thank me later.