If you watch the ’40-Year-Old Virgin’ either for the first time or the millionth since its release fourteen years ago, you may notice a few things—how much you miss Steve Carell’s comedy heydays, how much weight Jonah Hill lost, and, oh yeah, how the film is monumentally injected with toxic masculinity. Not really a shocker for a mid-2000s male-oriented comedy but still worthy of analysis.
Let’s take a look.
We’re set in 2005 North America. The weather is hot and the atmosphere is questionable. Forty-year-old Andy Stitzer is a virgin and this is a BIG problem to his non-virgin, boob-obsessed, quietly tender, humorous-enough-to-disguise-their-inappropriate-behavior guy buds, David, Cal, and Jay. The four set out on an epic adventure to deflower little Andy with a few jokes and a lot of peer pressure.
Andy is up for some of their mating habits, while many others he finds unpleasant. Let’s take a look at some of his best swerves around their bullshit toxic masculinity.
- When he leaves women alone:
“I respect women. I love women. I respect them so much that I completely stay away from them.”
2. When he doesn’t want to hit on drunk women:
“I don’t feel comfortable hitting on drunk bitches. You know, I don’t think that’s right.”
3. When he’s not afraid of a little self-care to put him in the mood.
4. When he shows some respect for homosexuality, getting fed up with the whole, “You know how I know that you’re gay?” thing between Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd:
“Cool it with the gay!”
5. When he admits his biggest secret to a room full of people to help out Kat Dennings:
In this day and age of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, men like Andy’s friends are undesirables and have a thing or two to learn from their virgin friend.
I’m not here to say this movie is inappropriate and should be banned along with all of Woody Allen’s films. In fact, like a good prick-flick.
I get that times have changed, that this humor was okay way back in the ancient 2000s, and that comedy has ripened (somewhat), but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out men’s worst moments from years ago. After all, we know toxic men like these don’t age well.
Carell’s character, however, has aged into a fine, desirable man since 2005 with his display of respect, at least before his boys came in with the peer pressure. Sure his khakis are horrendous and his schoolboy haircut is a turn-off, but, his respect for women would have me in his pants, fast. If he consented, of course.