TALKING PICTURES: GROSS NEGLIGENCE

“Listen, there aren’t very many people who are bigger fans of offensive humor than I am,” says Brian Copeland, not long after catching Steve Carrel’s gross-out hit comedy, ’The 40-year-old Virgin,’ now out on DVD. “I usually like Steve Carell,” adds the award-winning comic, writer, radio-host, and actor, whose autobiographical one-man-show ‘Not a Genuine Black Man’ has officially become the longest-running solo show in San Francisco history. He’s equally famous in the Bay Area for the regular R&B Joke shows he co-hosts on KGO with morning talk-show legend Ronn Owens, infamous for the hilarious, envelope-pushing crudeness of the jokes that end up being traded back and forth. Like he said, Copeland is quite the fan of politically incorrect, gleefully offensive humor, but the heights of grossness and over-the-top distastefulness was more than even Copeland was comfortable with. ‘“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but this movie was even grosser and more offensive than I could ever have imagined! It takes a whole lot to offend me, but this—this was just too much!”

The film, for those who’ve been in cryogenic stasis for the last year, is the story of Andy Stitzer (Carell), a sweet-natured guy who, for various reasons—and despite a number of disastrous attempts displayed in embarrassing flashbacks—had made it to his 40th birthday with out ever having made it with a woman. When Andy co-workers discover his situation, they make decide to make it their business to get the virgin laid. Unfortunately, his new friends know a lot less about women than they think they do, and the resulting would-be couplings and dates-gone-wrong play out like the world’s most disgusting governmental Abstinence infomercial ever made, as created by the freakiest, foulest, most infantile educational filmmakers the world has ever known. There are condom-on-the-head gags, untamable boner gags, slutty-nympho-in-the-bookstore gags, scary-bosses-making-the-move-on-the-virgin gags, raunchy-exclamations-while-having-your-chest-waxed gags, and just for yucks, some actual tenderness on behalf of the patient divorcee (Catherine Keener) who thinks Andy is kind of cute.

Guess who ultimately deflowers the virgin?

“Not a bad deflowerer, actually,” says Copeland. “She was kind of hot, but believably hot. She was a real person in a film full of crude, female caricatures. They’re based on reality, but they’re still caricatures. They’re stereotypes.”

“Okay, so let’s take a look at a couple of those stereotypes,” I suggest. “What about Paula (Jane Lynch), the Sexually Aggressive Female Boss who propositions Andy with increasing enthusiasm. Is she real, or just a bad joke?”

“Hmmmm. She was terrifying,” Copeland laughs. “And there really are people like that, men and women. If the virgin had wanted to sue, he’d have had a great sexual harassment case against her. He could have sued the corporation. He could have been rich!“

“Another stereotype,” I announce. “Beth. The Sex-Crazed Knockout who keeps showing up when Andy is at his crankiest.” Played by Elizabeth Banks, the Sex-Crazed Knockout is a little too much for poor, esteem-challenged Andy, and her willingness to get down and dirty only increases whenever Andy tries to turn her off by coming on really strong.

“She was an example, ultimately, of how too-much-of-a-good thing can turn into a bad thing,” says Copeland. At first, she seems kind of sexy, but by the end she’s just sort of sad. So I’d have to say she’s real, too.”

“And finally, what about the Drunk Girl,” I ask Copeland.

“Oh my god! The Drunk Girl!” he exclaims. “Was she scary or what?”

Drunk Girl (that’s her name in the credits), played by Leslie Mann, is an attractive woman Andy meets at a bar. She seems too good to be true until she’s finally alone with him in her car, where she suddenly demands, ‘Tell me I’m pretty,’ as she simultaneously proves to be TDTD—too drunk to drive—sideswiping parked cars and ultimately yacking up all over poor Andy.

“Tragically, she’s real!” Copeland confirms. “I always call women like that ‘Chicks who look good on paper,” says Copeland. “They’re really cute and really interesting, but as soon as you go out with them or get slightly involved with them, Sybil comes out. A friend of mine has this great thing he tells his kids, and it’s something he says he wishes someone had taught him when he was growing up, and that’s this—nobody is a little bit crazy. Either they’re sane, or they are full-clown fuckin’ nuts! Everybody has stories about a psycho girlfriend or a psycho boyfriend, and they all claim they had no idea how crazy the person was when they first got involved with them. Uh uh. You really knew that going in, if you were paying attention at all and looking at the signs. If someone tells me their girlfriend or boyfriend is just a little bit crazy or just a little eccentric, I tell them, ‘He or she’s only holding back how back how crazy they are, keeping it under control, until the day they decide they no longer need to keep that hidden, and they snap, and then they are full-tilt wacko. Nobody is a little bit crazy. You are either sane or you’re nuts.

“So,” he concludes, “I’d have to day that Drunk Girl was real, though the side-swiping and all that was a bit over-the-top. I’ve never had a date do that!”

David Templeton takes interesting people to interesting movies in his ongoing quest for the ultimate post-film conversation. This is not a review; rather, it’s a freewheeling, tangential discussion of life, alternative ideas, and popular culture.




Posted on February 22, 2006 in Features by
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