The 40-Year-Old Virgin

The smart, kindly 2005 comedy from Judd Apatow and co-writer/star Steve Carell towers above most contenders, because the hero is what E.M. Forster calls a round character, not a flat cardboard cutout. Poor 40ish Andy (Carell) lives alone in an apartment festooned with his enormous collection of action figures, getting no action. Andy's normal horn-dog coworkers at the electronics store (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Romany Malco) find his unsheathed schwing intolerable. Their set-ups for Andy are mostly fiascos, but his erotic misadventures are funnier than, say, a guy getting caught shtupping a pie, because they don't make him a figure of fun. Instead, they draw us into his plight. (Catherine Keener, no surprise, is the best of his potential hook-ups.) What makes everybody here score, repeatedly, is sharp writing, hearty acting, superb comedy instincts, and seamless ensemble consciousness. Call for showtimes. (R) TIM APPELO

Nov. 18-23, 2011

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