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40-Year-Old Virgin, The
Sounds pretty lame, huh? Trust me, this isn't my typical weekend, but it is for Andy Stitzer (Steve Carrell). Whenever he's not working at the local major electronics store, he's doing all sorts of various boring tasks at home. He doesn't really go out clubbing, and he's absolutely clueless when it comes to women. Any time he's tried to make out with a girl in the past, something has gone horribly wrong. One girl even got a karate kick in the face. After all of his failures, he just sort of gave up on the dating scene and went on living life the only way he knew how... as a dork.
When some of his co-workers are short a poker player, they reluctantly invite Andy to fill the vacant spot. Much like any night out with the guys, the conversation turns dirty as they all share some of their more intimate moments with the ladies in full detail. In an attempt to relate, Andy inadvertently reveals that he's still a virgin. Andy quickly bonds with his coworkers as they feel so bad, they make it their mission in life to get Andy laid. They give him pointers on how to talk to a woman, and they bring him to the clubs to find a drunk floozy that's ready to hop in the sack with the first guy that grabs their attention.
A one night stand isn't what's important to Andy though. He's a firm believer in romance, and he wants his first time with a woman to be for love, not for lust that's brought on by an alcoholic binge. He gets outed at work as a virgin right before meeting Trish (Catherine Keener). She's self employed as a professional seller on eBay, and she shows a genuine interest in Andy.
Up until this point in the film, we're subjected to a great amount of humor that revolves around using shockingly filthy language. A comedy can work in this respect as long as there's some sort of substance to back the comedy. Director Judd Apatow uses the dirty talk as a way to pull the audience into the movie. And it's hard not to get pulled in with the jokes, we are talking about a 40 Year Old Virgin here! Two hours of this could wear a little thin, so Trish is introduced at a perfect point in the film. She provides a story that switches from a middle aged man trying to lose his virginity, to one that's about a budding relationship.
Hold the phone, you mean we go from a guy's comedy to a chick flick halfway through the film? I have to give Apatow major kudos for this. Certain comedies that utilize dirty jokes can usually end up being gratuitous at best. Romantic comedies follow the same formula over and over again, so it's usually a pretty big drag to see anything from that played out genre as well. Apatow however, has taken elements that would interest both men and women, and meshes them together fairly well. Just when you think the jokes have the possibility of getting stale, a whole new element is introduced to keep things moving.
In this situation, everyone wins. The guys get to load up on filthy one liner's they can shout the next time they're with their buddies drinking, and the girls get their fill of a genuine love story. The guys are happy, the girls are happy, and nobody has to argue and complain about which movie they want to see. This makes The 40 Year Old Virgin an ideal comedy to watch with anyone, especially since the movie works pretty well as a whole. The only real complaint I have with this mix of genres, is the film seems to switch gears halfway through the film, instead of integrating them together throughout the films entirety.
The supporting cast also does an excellent job here. I think this movie could have worked with many different actors and actresses, but the winning combination was definitely the one that was chosen. Steve Carrell was perfect as the happy go lucky, yet shy virgin. Behind him is a cast that includes Seth Rogen (Freaks and Geeks), Paul Rudd (Anchorman), Romany Malco (Weeds), and more. Could you think of a better cast to blatantly rip a poor, hopeless romantic of a virgin than them?
The unrated version of this film rings in at one hundred and thirty three minutes, while the theatrical edition is one hundred and seventeen minutes. So you're not getting the typical treatment that consists of two additional minutes of footage you wouldn't recognize as new anyway. As a fan of this movie, I didn't mind the unrated cut, but I do have to acknowledge that there is a difference between the two versions that we have on this disc.
The unrated cut seems to feel like it's fairly bloated. The additional material is funny, but the theatrical cut was already snipped to perfection. When you take a comedy and make it over two hours long, you're asking the audience for a lot. A lot of comedies are in and out after an hour and a half, and pretty often they're that long for a reason. Pushing the two hour mark is a bold move, and although it's good to see at least once, it doesn't have the same replay value as the already tightly cut theatrical version.
This transfer is an AVC MPEG-4 encode at a resolution of 1080p. The original SD release looked a little disappointing. The first thing I noticed about the high definition transfer is the color palette pops a bit more, but still not the way I would have imagined it to. The color palette in much of the film consists of a lot of bright blues, and they finally are given the 'pop' they deserve, but everything else doesn't 'pop' in the way it should. Skin tones look pretty good though, and the black level is very nice.
Now for the news that most of you are probably waiting to find out about, is this transfer plagued with edge enhancement and DNR? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Although this is still leaps and bounds better than the SD version of the film, you're not going to get anything different here with the picture quality than you did with the HD-DVD. Compression issues are here as well. There's a bit of grain, and although I'm all for preserving the original film presentation with the grain intact, this just looks unnatural a lot of the time. Is this due to both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film being on the same disc? With the less than impressive release of this film we've seen on HD-DVD, I want to say the issue stems deeper than that.
Here's a question for Universal. Why do you insist on creating masters that take an image and add 'effects' in order to make them look better? If you didn't get the memo, let me fill you in. High definition is about as good as you can get for home theater systems. Adding a process to add what you call 'edge enhancement' or 'DNR', doesn't make the transfer look any better. Stop trying to 'pretty up' your films unnaturally. I know you're trying to sell the high def content now, but if people already own a Blu-ray player, chances are they'll pick up the movie they truly enjoy, even if they aren't littered with DNR or edge enhancement! And about grain, it's acceptable when it's from the film source. It's not acceptable when grain appears due to compression issues.
I'm really beating on the transfer a lot here, I know. If the video quality is a make or break aspect of this release for you, then you should probably pass. If you just want something that looks better than the DVD you already have and could care less about those issues, go for it. This release does look better than the DVD, but it's far from a top tier high definition release.
We have a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Most of the film is about the dialogue, so your rear channels never get a decent workout unless the scene is transitioning with music, or when our characters are in the club. The voices never sound weak, they never hiss or pop, and they never sound drowned out during louder sequences. The bass sounded very good during the louder sequences as well, as it was mixed in a way that wouldn't overpower you.
The sound effects don't sound as good as they should though. They sound slightly processed, and come off as a little unnatural. It's not a great representation for a high definition audio track, but this is the best this film has sounded on home video to date.
I won't have to waste much time picking out which features are in high definition and which aren't. They're all in standard definition, sorry folks.
First thing we should bring up, is the ability to use U-Control, which lets you view some interesting material throughout the film via picture in picture. A lot of what you're going to see is available in the features I'm about to discuss, so you'll have to ask yourself how you want the information fed to you. Do you want to see what essentially is the highlight reel from the special features is while you watch the film? Or would you rather go down the line and see everything in full?
Also, you'll eventually be able to download material via BD Live, as long you have a 2.0 compliant Blu-ray player.
The commentary is with Apatow and a majority of the main cast. It's been a pretty long time since I've heard such an entertaining commentary track! A lot of discussion is put out there about some of the difficulties of production, as well as a lot of the bits that were done without using a script. Everyone is having a good time talking about doing this movie, and with such a comedic bunch, you have almost as good a time as them. This is what a feature commentary should be! One person with a microphone talking about their own work for two hours can be fine, as long as you have the right individual doing it. Most of the time one or two people can give you a lot of dead air during the commentary. However, they've done it right here by getting everyone together to basically just laugh their asses off for a good portion of the recording.
There are a small handful of deleted scenes that are available with commentary, featuring none other than Apatow and Rogen. Some of these scenes were reintroduced into the film for the unrated version, so some of these you've already seen. This wouldn't make sense if only the unrated cut was available on this release. However, the theatrical cut has finally been included for a high def release. So if you're one that prefers the original theatrical presentation, you'll appreciate these a little more.
Date-a-Palooza - This doesn't have to do with the film itself as much. Normally I'd say something like this is filler material, and technically it still is. However, it's actually pretty damn entertaining. A lot of the main actors give us tips on how to successfully pick up women while trying the speed dating thing. I'm a married man, but I'm pretty sure I would never try speed dating to meet someone. Furthermore, I'm sure I wouldn't listen to these guys. They're hilarious, and that's all they set out to do. Mission accomplished!
Line-O-Rama and Raw Footage - With a cast that's used to doing a lot of improv, this feature focuses mainly on them doing different variations of their lines. This is a worthwhile watch, because you get to see the actors truly do what they do best outside of a script.
Gag Reel - Here is another feature that usually ends up being very good on a release, or completely dull. Thankfully it's not the latter. These goofs during filming are pretty hilarious, and contains some of the stuff that didn't work during of the improve takes.
Judd's Video Diaries - Judd Apatow filmed a little video diary during the production of this film, and now we get to see the collection of casual, behind the scenes moments. Judd Apatow has created quite a name for himself in the last few years. He's become a name in comedy that essentially means 'quality', yet I never really knew anything about the guy. Does he just know how to film comedies well, or is he an insufferable bore? I was pleased to see that he does have a bit of fun while he works, and you can see that here for yourself.
Waxing Doc - If you didn't already know, Steve Carrell really did have the hair ripped off of his chest for the infamous waxing scene. We actually get to see the filming of this scene going on, while we get to watch the reactions of everyone else involved with the scene. Needless to say, Steve is in pain, and everyone else thinks it's hilarious. I'm sure Mr. Carrell won't be doing a scene quite like this again anytime soon! Share his pain as you watch the strips painfully being pulled from numerous angles!
My Dinner With Stormy - Another throwaway feature that's there for the special features list, but isn't really relevant to the film. Seth sits down with Stormy, the 'adult' film actress. They chit chat for a little, and she flirts with Seth a little. Not really anything special here.
Poker Game Rehearsal - This is pretty interesting. The main actors are sitting in a room reading from the script, and of course, it's the poker game scene. This is the first time they've read this particular version of the scene, as it was the product of a massive rewrite.
Auditions - Just as the title of this feature claims, here are some of the auditions the main actors gave for the film. This type of feature is never mind blowing, but it's always interesting to see what made a director say 'yes, that's our man'!
Reel Comedy Roundtable - This was a Comedy Central special. The main people involved with the film discuss their thoughts in a more formal fashion, about how they felt about the film and what inspired them. We have a lot of good information from the commentary and other features already, so this doesn't really feel like it's necessary. However, as what I assume as a Comedy Central special to be promo material, it's fantastic that it's included. Anything that had to relate to the film should appear on the release of any and every movie.
Cinemax Final Cut - Again, this is a feature that takes place in a more formal environment. The discussion is a question and answer type setup, and we don't really get anything here we haven't already heard. It's nice to see it was included though.
1970's Sex Ed Film - This is a serious sex education film from the 70's, and I couldn't stop laughing my ass off. Old school propaganda videos are hilarious when you look back at them today, so whatever you do, make sure you do not miss watching this! It's guaranteed for a barrel of laughs
Also included is the theatrical trailer.
The 40 Year Old Virgin is an excellent comedy that works on both sides of the romantic dinner table. Couples can watch this movie and not have to worry about how the other person is going to like it. The cast gives a great performance, and the blend of comedy and romance is put together very well... at least for the theatrical cut. The unrated cut has its issues, but is also very enjoyable. The video quality isn't going to be remembered as a top tier title by far, and the audio gives the best experience this film has had on home video to date. Extras are plentiful, although not always necessary, and can feel a bit excessive at times.
If you're a fan of the film, this is probably going to wind up in your collection unless you're a true video fanatic. It's tough to recommend this Blu-ray release for the compression and edge enhancement it displays, but if you're looking for anything as long as it looked better than the SD release, this will do the trick. Despite the issues with the video, I'm going to recommend this title anyway. The film is great, there are plenty of extras, albeit excessive, and both versions of the film are here so you can choose the version you prefer.
-About the Author- Michael Zupan is primarily a film guy, but has a variety of places where you can enjoy his work otherwise. Check Bytesizeimpressions.com for video game op-ed pieces and podcasts, and be sure to check out the sister site, Byte-Size Cinema, linked up top. This writer also contributes significantly to in-print magazines such as Minecraft Explorer and Fortnite Explorer!