The 40-Year-Old Virgin

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The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The title character, Andy, who is smiling and has text in front of him
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJudd Apatow
Written by
Produced by
CinematographyJack N. Green
Edited byBrent White
Music byLyle Workman
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • August 19, 2005 (2005-08-19) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes
133 minutes (Unrated)
CountryUnited States
Budget$26 million
Box office$177.4 million

The 40-Year-Old Virgin is a 2005 American romantic comedy film directed by Judd Apatow (in his feature directorial debut), who produced the film with Clayton Townsend and Shauna Robertson. It features Steve Carell as the titular 40-year-old virgin Andy, an employee at an electronics store. Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, and Seth Rogen play co-workers who resolve to help him lose his virginity, and Catherine Keener stars as Andy's love interest, Trish.

Watching Carell's performance in Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004) inspired Apatow to cast him in the lead role for the film, and they wrote The 40-Year-Old Virgin together. It was based on a sketch Carell created with The Second City where a man aged 40 hides a secret. Filming took place in Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley, California, from January to April 2005.

The film was released theatrically in the United States on August 19, 2005, through Universal Pictures, and grossed over $177 million worldwide on a $26 million budget. Reviews were generally favorable, praising Carell's performance and the film's well-meaning yet bawdy humor, which was a point of contention by some conservative commentators as well. He won accolades from the Golden Schmoes Awards and MTV Movie & TV Awards for this role while Keener received awards from the Boston Society of Film Critics and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. The 40-Year-Old Virgin was named by the American Film Institute one of 2005's Top 10 Films.


Andy Stitzer is a shy 40-year-old introvert who works as a stock supervisor at electronics store Smart Tech. He gave up trying to have sex after various failed attempts and lives alone in an apartment with a collection of action figures and video games. When a conversation at a poker game with his co-workers David, Jay, and Cal turns to past sexual exploits, they learn that he secretly is still a virgin.

Andy is mortified upon discovering the next day that everyone else at work has learned about the secret, including their boss Paula, who is attracted to him and later privately offers to take his virginity. He almost quits work in humiliation before David consoles him and recommends trying again to have sex. David, Jay, and Cal become determined to help Andy achieve this. They all give differing advice on how to interact with women.

David invites him to join them for a speed dating event and unsuccessfully tries to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Amy there. Jay drags Andy to various social events, books a painful chest waxing appointment, and sets him up with a prostitute, which all end with embarrassing results. Cal advises Andy to simply be confident and ask women questions instead of talking about himself. He practices this on a bookstore clerk named Beth, who quickly becomes intrigued by him. David gives Andy his pornography collection, encouraging him to masturbate.

Andy eventually gets a date with a customer named Trish Piedmont. At the end of their first date, they almost have sex but are interrupted by her teenage daughter Marla. Trish suggests they postpone having sex, and Andy enthusiastically agrees; they decide to abstain until their twentieth date. Their relationship flourishes over the following weeks. She encourages Andy's dream of starting a business and helps fund it by selling his collectibles. After Marla argues with Trish over wanting birth control, Andy takes her to a group information session at a sexual health clinic, where she is mocked for being a virgin. Andy admits his own virginity to defend her, earning him Marla's respect.

Meanwhile, David suffers an emotional breakdown at work over his obsession with Amy and takes a vow of celibacy, which leads to Paula giving his sales duties to Andy for the day and later promoting him to floor manager due to his high sales quota. As Cal takes on Andy's previous role, he hires a woman named Bernadette to work at the store, hoping to match her with David, so he can move on from Amy. After Jay's girlfriend Jill breaks up with him due to his infidelity, he concedes to Andy that sex can ruin a relationship. Following a reconciliation with Jill, Jay later invites Andy and the others to a nightclub to celebrate her pregnancy.

Trish tries to initiate sex with Andy on their twentieth date and becomes upset when he resists. They argue, and Andy leaves to meet his friends at a nightclub. He gets drunk and leaves with Beth to have sex at her apartment. Cal gets David and Bernadette to hook up, while Marla convinces Trish to reconcile with Andy. At Beth's, Andy sobers up and decides to leave without having sex, just as his friends arrive and encourage him to go back to Trish.

Andy returns to his apartment to find Trish waiting for him. She has found David's porn collection; he tries to explain, but she flees in alarm and disgust, fearing Andy may be a sexual deviant. While pursuing her on his bike, Andy collides with her car, flying through the side of a billboard truck. She rushes to his side, and Andy finally confesses that he is a virgin. Trish is relieved and accepting, and they profess their love for each other. They eventually marry in a lavish ceremony with everyone in attendance, having generated roughly $500,000 from the sales of his action figures to pay for it, before having sex for the first time. The film ends with a musical sequence where all the characters sing and dance to "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In".


Image of Steve Carell wearing a black bow-tie with his tuxedo, standing on the red carpet at the 2017 Academy Awards. He is wearing a blue ribbon in his lapel to show his support for the American Civil Liberties Union. The photograph shows Carell's head and torso.
Image of Catherine Keener head and torso. She is wearing a heavy coat and dark sunglasses. Keener is holding a blue sharpie and appears to be signing autographs.
Steve Carell (left) and Catherine Keener (right) in 2010, who respectively play Andy and Trish
  • Steve Carell as Andy Stitzer, a shy and introverted man who quit trying to have sex following missed opportunities before meeting Trish. Judd Apatow stated that "Andy Stitzer didn't have to be that weird. Everybody has some built-in performance anxiety and for some people, it prevents them from taking risks and they simply stop trying." He added that people would "always root for that person to prevail and find love".[1]
  • Catherine Keener as Trish Piedmont, the owner of a store that sells items on eBay.[2] She has three daughters and one granddaughter prior to meeting Andy and starting a relationship with him. Keener was eager to take on the role as a change from her previous "strong dramatic performances leavened with wry comedy".[1]
  • Paul Rudd as David, a "lovelorn, self-destructive" character that Apatow and Carell specifically wrote with Rudd in mind to portray him.[1]
  • Romany Malco as Jay, a womanizer who Malco called "probably the biggest" freak of the film because he "constantly runs around sleeping with all these women without ever making a real, quality connection with anyone".[1]
  • Seth Rogen as Cal, one of Andy's co-workers who was written with Rogen in mind.[1] Scott Chitwood deemed him "the most adventurous of the group".[3]
  • Elizabeth Banks as Beth, a "sexually uninhibited" bookstore clerk who becomes intrigued with Andy. Banks said she "has some outrageous moments, and I realized that I had to prove to them early on in the audition process that I was willing to go that far once filming began."[1]
  • Leslie Mann as Nicky, a drunk woman whom Andy once tries to have sex with.[1]
  • Jane Lynch as Paula, the boss of David, Jay, Cal, and Andy who offers to take the lattermost's virginity after learning that he has never had sex.[4]

Other cast members include Kat Dennings as Marla Piedmont, Mindy Kaling as Amy, Gerry Bednob as Mooj, Marika Domińczyk as Bernadette, Shelley Malil as Haziz, Mo Collins as Gina, Kimberly Page, Gillian Vigman, and Siena Goines as women attending the speed dating event, Nancy Walls as the health clinic counselor, Cedric Yarbrough, David Koechner, and Jeff Kahn as fathers attending the health clinic, Loren Berman, Nick Lashaway, and Julian Foster as boys attending the health clinic, Chelsea Smith as Julia, Erica Vittina Phillips as Jill, Jonah Hill as a customer at Trish's store, Jordan Masterson as Mark, Jazzmun as a prostitute, Miki Mia as the waxing lady, Denise Meyerson as Robin, Michael Bierman as a 16-year-old version of Andy, Lee Weaver as Joe, Kevin Hart, Wayne Federman, Ron Marasco, and Joseph T. Mastrolia as Smart Tech customers, Kate Luyben as a woman who purchases videotapes, Stormy Daniels as a porn star, Shannon Bradley, Brianna Brown, Elizabeth Carey, Elizabeth DeCicco, Hilary Shepard, and Barret Swatek as bar girls, Carla Gallo as a girl who sucks on toes, Laura Bottrell as a college girl, Joseph Nunez as a man who buffs floors, Charlie Hartsock as the speed dating MC, Gloria Helena Jones as Sara, Marisa Guterman as a girl wearing braces, Matthew McKane as a motorist, Miyoko Shimosawa as a waitress, Rose Abdoo, Steve Bannos, and Brooke Hamlin as restaurant customers, Marilyn Dodds Frank as a woman who buys a television, and Loudon Wainwright III as a priest.[5][6]


Image of Judd Apatow showing his head and upper torso. He is looking straight ahead at the camera.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin was directed by Judd Apatow (pictured in 2012), who co-wrote it with Steve Carell.

The 40-Year-Old Virgin was Judd Apatow's directorial debut. While serving as a producer for the 2004 film Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, he got the idea to have a film with Carell in the lead role after watching his performance in that, thinking "It would be great to see a Steve Carell movie". Apatow later asked him whether he had any movie ideas, and both men wrote The 40-Year-Old Virgin together after the latter expressed desires to make something about a virgin who was aged 40,[7] basing it off a sketch Carell created while performing with the improv comedy troupe The Second City. Carell did many versions of the sketch, trying out different scenarios where the 40-year-old man is hiding a "big secret."[1][8] Apatow had difficulty coming up with the ending for the film. Garry Shandling suggested it was important to show that Andy was having better sex because he was in love, and instead of directly showing the sex they decided to have Andy sing and have a musical number.[9]

Apatow started casting the film early in the development process and tailored its script to the strengths of the actors.[10] He also produced it for Apatow Productions along with Clayton Townsend and Shauna Robertson.[5] Catherine Keener was the first choice for the female lead.[10][11] Apatow specifically cast Stormy Daniels because he wanted "someone who's really, really comfortable" doing nude scenes that were required for the film's plot.[7] A large portion of the dialogue in The 40-Year-Old Virgin was improvised.[12] Keener stated in 2010 that Apatow "never really would even say cut" and instead would say "reload" when burning through film due to the improvisation, calling the experience "hysterically funny". She also mentioned "you had to kind of lose sense of being self-conscious on that movie because it was sort of an all-in in terms of throwing a joke out or even the writer would sit behind the monitors behind the curtain".[13] The production used over a million feet of film, a milestone reached on the last day of filming and celebrated with free champagne from Technicolor SA.[14][15]

Filming for The 40-Year-Old Virgin started on January 17, 2005, and wrapped on April 1, 2005.[5] The movie was shot in parts of California, including Studio City, Los Angeles, and San Fernando Valley's Ventura Boulevard.[1] Lyle Workman composed the film's score while Jack N. Green and Brent White respectively served as its cinematographer and editor.[5] Production was halted by Universal Pictures after the first week, due to concerns that the physical appearance of Carell's character resembled that of a serial killer, and that the early footage was not funny.[16] Paul Rudd was criticized for being overweight and the studio was unhappy with how Apatow treated the project like an independent film.[9][17] Apatow initially had a supporting role in mind for Jason Segel that Universal refused to allow.[18] Because of the accidental deaths of fish used in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the American Humane Association withheld its "no animals were harmed..." disclaimer.[19][20]

Seven test screenings were held for the film prior to entering theaters, with each costing approximately $10,000. It was initially considered "uncomfortably dirty, and not all that funny" before Apatow reduced the amount of pornography shown.[21] Malco once pleaded for him to cut his scenes, fearing what would happen following its release and insisting: "My mom is an ordained minister, bro, cut me out of the movie, please. I'm serious." This request was declined because Apatow found Malco funny. He was surprised to find out his mother ended up taking "all of her church friends to see it, multiple times", and stated The 40-Year-Old Virgin "changed my career" by leading to more subsequent job offers without prior auditions.[22] Jay was initially conceived as "a preppy, fraternity boy" before Malco's audition prompted him to be reworked into a "streetwise, trash-talking womanizer". He liked how the character "actually learns his own life lessons along with Andy" and called him the main character's "sexual antithesis".[1]

Carell's chest was genuinely waxed for the film, with five cameras set up to capture the scene, which was done in one take. He insisted on having an actual wax, telling Apatow: "It won't be as funny if it's mocked up or if it's special effect. You have to see that this is really happening."[23] Malco began to feel sick while watching the waxing and ran away from the set.[7] According to Miki Mia, it took three or four hours to shoot the scene, and she requested that some of the chest hair be trimmed in advance to reduce Carell's pain. Mia noted that only "a tiny bit" was removed "so that it'll look great on camera". His chest was never fully waxed during the filming, and he shaved off all the hair after three weeks.[24] After Carell blurted out Kelly Clarkson's name during the wax, Clarkson told Rogen in 2021 that it would be "literally the one thing people know me from" regardless of anything else she did. Rogen explained he came up with this idea while seeing her on television as he was compiling a list of "clean jokes" and "dirty jokes" to use in the scene.[25]


On August 19, 2005, The 40-Year-Old Virgin first premiered in theaters within the United States. The film opened atop the North American box office, grossing $21,422,815 during the opening weekend, and stayed at number one the following weekend. It grossed a total of $109,449,237 in this market, and $67,929,408 internationally, for a total of $177,378,645 against a budget of $26 million. The film was 25th in global gross, and 19th in the United States that year. It was released in the United Kingdom on September 2, 2005,[26] and topped the nation's box office that weekend.[27] Later that month, the film premiered in Germany, Greece, New Zealand, and Russia with respective openings of $2,195,972, $202,400, $144,666, and $443,428. Elsewhere, it opened with $66,277 in Argentina, $1,608,724 within Australia, $5,451 from Bulgaria, $25,200 in the Czech Republic, $29,884 within Lebanon, $310,280 from the Netherlands, $119,930 in Norway, $133,509 within Poland, $9,091 from Slovakia, $87,535 in South Africa, and $157,386 within Turkey. Upon being distributed in Spain, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand, The 40-Year-Old Virgin also had first-weekend grosses of $874,373, $240,882, $78,099, and $72,800 respectively within these markets.[26]

On December 11, 2005, a version of the film that runs for 133 minutes was released onto DVD under the banner "unrated", which is 17 minutes longer than what was shown in theaters. This additional footage consists of more nudity, Andy asking Viagra for help on how to get rid of an erection, another scene featuring a "bad encounter" from his younger days, fantasies of a porn star, and Jay having "a lot more amusing racial banter" with Mooj.[3] A 2008 Blu-ray distribution includes the same extended cut along with its theatrical version.[28] For the 100th Anniversary of Universal Pictures, both editions were re-released onto DVD on January 10, 2012. This version also had a similar banner of "unrated".[29]


Initial critical response[edit]

With an approval rating of 84% at the end of 2005, Rotten Tomatoes ranked The 40-Year-Old Virgin as the year's "Best Reviewed Comedy" and added it "proves that Steve Carell has the comedic chops to carry a movie and provide a good share of laughs."[30] Ebert and Roeper gave the film a "two thumbs up" rating. Roger Ebert said, "I was surprised by how funny, how sweet, and how wise the movie really is" and "the more you think about it, the better The 40-Year-Old Virgin gets."[31][32] The pair gave minor criticisms, with Ebert describing "the way she (Catherine Keener as 'Trish') empathizes with Andy" as "almost too sweet to be funny" and Richard Roeper saying that the film was too long, and at times extremely frustrating.[31] Roeper later chose the movie as the tenth best of 2005.[33]

The A.V. Club reviewer Nathan Rabin felt Carell made "a surprisingly graceful transition to a leading-man role" following his performance in Anchorman, and said both of them worked well due to the "chemistry and comic chops" of their casts. He concluded by praising Carell for instilling "a good deal of complexity and sophistication into his affectionate characterization" and believed it compensated for a perceived lack of humor in the romance.[34] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the movie an A−, saying that Carell portrays Andy "in the most surprising way possible: as a credible human being."[35] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times called the film a "charmingly bent comedy," adding that Carell was an essential component for "making this film work as well as it does."[36]

Emanuel Levy gave the film a B+ grade, calling it an R-rated comedy superior to Wedding Crashers that has "a generous heart and a sweet, almost naive center" in spite of the profane language used.[37] While Brian Lowry of Variety believed The 40-Year-Old Virgin was slightly too long and "indulges in some juvenile excesses", he also felt it often provoked laughs even when "sophomorically homophobic."[38] Rating the movie 3+12 stars, The Baltimore Sun critic Chris Kaltenbach opened with "People see the name of this movie and get defensive. What's wrong with being a virgin? they ask. Absolutely nothing, and that's part of the point of The 40-Year-Old Virgin, probably the most sweet-spirited sex comedy ever made. It's pretty funny, too." He went on to call the lead character "endearing" and "a marvelous comic invention".[2]

Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post is critical of the film, but praised Carell for his performance. She wrote Andy remaining "steadfastly chaste and genuinely humane" was its most surprising aspect and described him as a character "of old-fashioned decency in a movie that otherwise flouts it at every turn."[39] It was condemned by Harry Forbes of Catholic News Service as "relentlessly vulgar and frequently offensive",[40] and by political columnist Cal Thomas for being an example of societal decline in regard to "self-control or what was once known as purity."[41]

Retrospective commentary[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 85% based on 188 reviews, with an average rating of 7.20/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Steve Carell's first star turn scores big with a tender treatment of its titular underdog, using raunchy but realistically funny comedy to connect with adult audiences."[42] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 73 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[43] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[44]

For the film's tenth anniversary, Erik Abriss from Complex and Josh Wigler of MTV News both wrote pieces asserting it remained enjoyable. The former called this "the best romantic comedy of the 2000s" as well as "the most influential" for shifting "the comedic zeitgeist from inane to intellectual, from screwball to sensitive, from hyper-masculine to hilariously honest" while the latter compiled a list of reasons it "Still Cracks You Up 10 Years Later", with the first being how the film "marked the beginning of a modern comedy age".[45] Writing for The Atlantic on the same day, Megan Garber felt The 40-Year-Old Virgin "holds up" and might have become better over time. She wrote that the movie "launched (almost) a thousand bromantic comedies", put Apatow "on the mainstream map", and made him a "Hollywood king (and, much more interestingly, queen)-maker". Garber added it raises questions on how people become adults and established how "whatever makes an adult now, it isn't, in general, the thing that has defined adulthood for so much of human history: the having of sex."[46] Chris Serico of Today said this "has continued to resonate among comedy fans, and served as a breakthrough movie for its director, Judd Apatow, and his co-writer/star, Steve Carell" a decade after being released. He went onto praise Carell's performance and stated it "took his career and the movie to the next level".[47]

A 2018 article from Detroit Free Press contributor Julie Hinds noted that The 40-Year-Old Virgin was "Michigan's favorite romantic comedy", and called that ranking "a fine choice" when "Carell's character has a heart of gold" and "eventually lands in a solid, committed relationship".[48] 15 years after the film's premiere, NME writer Beth Webb praised its use of "a mature virgin" for a protagonist who does not feel sex-starved. She called that aspect "a milestone" for "cinema's muddled relationship with virginity, in which women have since taken control of their virtue on screen, while men remain largely underrepresented" and declared the movie as a whole to be "a milestone for sex-positive cinema".[49]


Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref(s)
American Film Institute Awards 2005 Top 10 Films of the Year The 40-Year-Old Virgin Won [50]
Boston Society of Film Critics Awards December 11, 2005 Best Supporting Actress Catherine Keener Won [51]
Critics Choice Association January 9, 2006 Best Comedy Movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin Won [52]
Golden Schmoes Awards 2005 Best Comedy of the Year The 40-Year-Old Virgin Won [53]
Best Screenplay of the Year Nominated
Best Surprise of the Year Won
Favorite Movie Poster of the Year Nominated
Best Breakthrough Performance of the Year Steve Carell Won
Best Line of the Year "You know how I know you're gay?" Won
Most Memorable Scene in a Movie Chest waxing scene Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards December 2005 Best Supporting Actress Catherine Keener Won [54]
MTV Movie & TV Awards June 8, 2006 Best Movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin Nominated [55]
Best Breakthrough Performance Romany Malco Nominated
Best Male Performance Steve Carell Nominated
Best Comedic Performance Won
Best On-Screen Team Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Romany Malco Nominated
National Society of Film Critics Awards January 8, 2006 Best Supporting Actress Catherine Keener Nominated [56]
New York Film Critics Circle January 8, 2006 Best Supporting Actress Nominated [57]
Writers Guild of America, East February 4, 2006 Best Original Screenplay Judd Apatow, Steve Carell Nominated [58]


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  45. ^ 10th anniversary pieces:
  46. ^ Garber, Megan (August 19, 2015). "The 40-Year-Old Virgin Is 10—And All Grown Up". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on May 26, 2021. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  47. ^ Serico, Chris (August 19, 2015). "'40-Year-Old Virgin' turns 10: Watch 6 of Steve Carell's funniest film clips". Today. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  48. ^ Hinds, Julie (February 14, 2018). "Michigan's top romantic comedy is '40-Year-Old Virgin' and we're OK with that". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on April 11, 2021. Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  49. ^ Webb, Beth (August 18, 2020). "'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' at 15: why Steve Carell's classic comedy was a milestone for sex-positive cinema". NME. Archived from the original on August 20, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  50. ^ "AFI Awards". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on October 18, 2020. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  51. ^ Burr, Ty (December 12, 2005). "Boston critics name 'Brokeback' best film". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on January 26, 2021. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  52. ^ "The 11th Critics' Choice Movie Awards Winners and Nominees". Critics Choice Association. Archived from the original on June 29, 2012. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  53. ^ "Golden Schmoes Winners and Nominees (2005)". Archived from the original on November 12, 2019. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  54. ^ King, Susan (December 11, 2005). "L.A. Film Critics Honor 'Brokeback'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 23, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  55. ^ MTV Award details:
  56. ^ Hernandez, Eugene (January 9, 2006). ""Capote" Named Best Picture of '05 By National Society of Film Critics". IndieWire. Archived from the original on January 3, 2018. Retrieved May 29, 2021.
  57. ^ New York Critics Award details:
  58. ^ Writers Guild Award details:

External links[edit]