(director/writer: Judd Apatow; screenwriter: Steve Carell; cinematographer: Jack N. Green; editor: Brent White; music: Lyle Workman; cast: Steve Carell (Andy Stitzer), Catherine Keener (Trish), Paul Rudd (David), Romany Malco (Jay), Seth Rogen (Cal), Elizabeth Banks (Beth), Jane Lynch (Paula), Gerry Bednob (Mooj), Shelley Malil (Haziz). Leslie Mann (Nicky), Kat Dennings (Marla); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Judd Apatow/Shauna Robertson/Clayton Townsend; Universal Pictures; 2005)

“A raunchy one-joke premised comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A raunchy one-joke premised comedy with hardly any redeemable value to it except that the terrific Catherine Keener is in it and it concludes with a blissful Hair-like ending. It aims for the same demographics as the R-rated Wedding Crashers, as it combines bawdy frat-house humor with a seemingly sentimental adult romance–leaving the viewer with two pictures in one, with both smelling like rotten eggs. Writer-director Judd Apatow (TV writer for Freaks and Geeks and The Larry Sanders Show), in his movie directional debut, and co-writer star Steve Carell, bring it on with a multitude of crude jokes. Their episodic romantic-comedy is an assortment of erection sight-gags, fag jokes, sexist yuks, buddy jokes, boy’s night out jokes, vomit jokes, drunk driving fun, and male dysfunctional jokes. The main character never progresses beyond being a cartoonish two-dimensional one, while the narrative never seemed more than a cable TV sitcom that should appeal only to those who gravitate to such funky humor.

Steve Carell plays Andy, a likable loner dorky forty-year-old working for a longtime as a stock clerk in the television department of an electrical appliance superstore, Smart Tech, who’s still a virgin and has learned to lead an orderly celibate bachelor life. His three wacky coworkers David (Paul Rudd), Jay (Romany Malco), and Cal (Seth Rogen) get it out of him when he fails to impress them with his macho talk that he’s never been laid and scheme to help the still naïve, immature and socially awkward man change that. But he’s frightened off by their dumb advice, the appetites of sex freak Beth (Elizabeth Banks), and the promiscuous drunk Nicky (Leslie Mann) who nearly gets him killed while driving. Also a speed-dating session doesn’t work for him, and when still under the influence of his friendly but not that helpful buddies, he goes for a chest-hair waxing (Carell did it for real so it would be most effective to see real pain as humor).

The possibility of a real romance developing occurs when the friendly middle-aged Trish (Catherine Keener), a sexy divorced mom of three and the grandma of one, walks into Smart Tech and Andy gets her phone number. She digs him but he’s afraid to tell her he’s never been laid and equally afraid of getting rid of his valuable collectibles that include G.I. Joe, miniature toy soldiers, Atomic Man and Aquaman (many still in their original boxes!). The film changes gears with Trish on the scene and Andy, away from his loser coworkers, now must grow up and stop acting like a child to make it work with a real woman.

This type of humor is not my cup of tea, but for those who drink from that cup the film at least makes an attempt to make its geek hero into a real person (the portrait of him always seems to be sympathetic). Though I found that even in the more sensitive part of the film it was still crass and unaffecting, and without even offering up any laughs.

REVIEWED ON 8/22/2005 GRADE: C-    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/