September 09, 2010

Virginity Hit, The

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A movie review by James Berardinelli



Virginity Hit, The

COMEDY:

United States, 2010

U.S. Release Date:

2010-09-10

Running Length:

1:30

MPAA Classification:

R (Sexual Content, Profanity, Nudity)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio:

1.85:1

Cast:

Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich, Justin Kline, Krysta Rodriguez, Nicole Weaver, Savannah Welch, Sunny Leone

Director:

Andrew Gurland, Huck Botko

Screenplay:

Andrew Gurland & Huck Botko

Cinematography:

Luke Geissbuhler

U.S. Distributor:

Screen Gems

Subtitles:

none


The Virginity Hit takes the first-person, pseudo-documentary approach popularized by horror films such as The Blair Witch Project and applies it to the coming-of-age/teen comedy genre. Perhaps surprisingly, it proves to be a good fit, although questions still remain about the "authenticity" of some footage given its candid nature. Still, it's easy enough to suspend disbelief when most of what's on screen shows the apparent cinematic aptitude of Uncle Bill's home movies. In this case, the excuse is that we're watching the YouTube-focused output of three teenage boys as they chronicle the misadventures of the fourth member of their group as he attempts to lose his virginity. It's kind of a low-budget, grungy looking Superbad without the stupid cop stuff.

The "mockumentary" film is no stranger to co-writers/directors Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko. Gurland's first film, 1998's Frat House, was an underground genuine documentary. Subsequent to that, he and Botko teamed for a couple of shorts, then produced the mockumentary Mail Order Wife. The Virginity Hit is their second feature together. They are also credited as the writers of the recent horror film, The Last Exorcism, which was filmed in a similar manner. There's little doubt these two are enamored with this story-telling technique. It also attracted the attention of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, who are on board as producers (although, contrary to some erroneous reports, neither appears on-screen).

Matt (Matt Bennett), Zack (Zack Pearlman), Jacob (Jacob Davich), and Justin (Justin Kline) are best friends. One-by-one over a one-year period, each loses his virginity... until there is one. It's not that Matt doesn't have prospects, but he wants everything to be perfect before doing the deed with his long-time girlfriend, Nicole (Nicole Weaver). Then, just when the big event is at hand, Matt learns that Nicole may have cheated on him and his whole world collapses. Following Nicole's betrayal, Matt's life becomes all about losing his virginity, but should he accept a proposal from an Internet girl (Savannah Welch) who promises unforgettable sex if he'll buy a $1700 suit? Or would it be better to stay close to home and spend a night with his adopted sister, Krysta (Krysta Rodriguez)? (This possibility raises the question if it's really incest when there's no blood connection.) Or should he spend the money necessary for a fling with his favorite porn star, Sunny Leone? As Matt weighs these possibilities, Zack helpfully records everything using his portable camera and posts the most memorable and embarrassing moments to YouTube for the entire world to see.

As one might expect from a film that deals with a character's attempts to lose his virginity (not exactly an original topic for a coming-of-age film, by the way), a lot of the humor is on the raunchy side. Some of the material is amusing, although nothing quite reaches the laugh-aloud level attained by "groundbreaking" sex comedies like American Pie. There's a predictable amount of gross-out humor, although it's not graphic (we only get the audio, not the video). Arguably, one of the funniest sequences occurs when Matt shaves his pubic region. We get a full view of what's going on, although there's blurring around the genitals. Also, although there's a fair amount of nudity, the guerilla filmmaking style often makes it difficult to catch more than a random glimpse of various body parts.

The actors, most of whom are unknowns, are credible. Matt Bennett has a part that Michael Cera would have played had this been a higher profile production, and he out-Ceras Cera playing the likeable, somewhat dorky "average guy." How he ends up with a hot girlfriend like Nicole is never adequately explained. Zack Pearlman has the Jonah Hill role and, like Matt, Zack is also blessed with a good-looking girlfriend. The most interesting and energetic performer is Krysta Rodriguez, whose character is so appealing that we're almost willing to overlook the "incest factor" and hope she ends up being the one to solve Matt's problem. The actor with the most credits to her name (by far) is real-life porn star Sunny Leone, who does a believable job with her clothing on (although her topless scene is the longest and clearest offered by the filmmakers).

The Virginity Hit is fresh, unpretentious fun, but the comedy is so raw that it will appeal only to those who appreciate this sort of unfiltered peek into the mind of males in their late teens and early twenties. The movie will probably not age well, since it's the kind of thing whose reliance upon social fads will date it. (With so much reliance on YouTube, imagine how this will look to future audiences once YouTube is passť.) The gonzo approach makes everything a little more real, however, and this gives life to the characters and makes the more outrageous comedic sequences seem a little less off-the-wall. Future generations may view The Virginity Hit as a curiosity, but today's audiences, provided they're primed for the subject matter and the manner in which it is presented, should enjoy the hell out of it.

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