August is supposed to suck at the cinema - not quite like February, the dumping grounds of Movie Hell, but still, around now, we're supposed to be getting the dregs of the season, the post-blockbusters that are thrown out only to fill seats while audiences try to flee the heat.

And yet, here it is, late August, and we come across the first satisfying comedy I've seen all year, The 40 Year Old Virgin, directed by Judd Apatow in his feature debut. It's not the first funny movie, of course, but it's a film content to just be a simple comedy, without bells and whistles, or angst, or just plain stupidity.

Okay, so there's stupidy; but it's a sex comedy. There aren't many of those with much of an intellectual pedigree, and they were all directed by Lubitsch or Wilder. And while The 40 Year Old Virgin would lose in a fight with The Seven Year Itch, it's certainly head-and-shoulders with Kiss Me, Stupid.

Steve Carell plays Andy, the titular virgin. When his friends find out his secret, they vow to get him laid immediately; but he has designs on Trish (Catherine Keener), who teaches him the value of balancing the joys of carnality with love and companionship.

The plot is thin, and could be resolved in half the time with a five minute conversation, but it's usually best not to think too heavily on such things, especially when it's only competition at the multiplex is Wedding Crashers or The Dukes of Hazzard. Especially because the scenes hung on this plot are by and large so much fun: Andy watches his first porno, Andy gets a chest wax, Andy seduces a book seller. The ending - I mean the very, very ending - the plot is over and the credits are warming up - is as funny as anything I have seen this year in a cinema.

What else is there to say? It's a disposable movie, sure, and I have no idea what to make of its approach to sex (hedonism and monogamy are both praised, in mutually exclusive ways; I do not believe the film realizes this). It really doesn't earn its nearly two-hour running time (it takes way too long for the Andy/Trish plot to start). But it made me laugh. Steve Carell is great, and because I have a crush on Catherine Keener, she's great too. And it's August. I'm not looking for The Rules of the Game. I just want out of the heat.