Last American Virgin
October 30th 2008 21:13
The teen sex comedy genre reached epic heights in the 80s, when a flurry of releases made being a teenager seem wild again; the genre always seemed to pit boys against girls, in the quest to see who could have risky, unprotected sex.
Since then, however, the hedonism and irresponsibility of those days have been lost, along with the relative innocence. We've had a resurgence of sex comedies from Hollywood, starting with "American Pie", continuing on with a series of decreasing quality. Lately, Judd Apatow and crew have hit the box office with the likes of "Knocked Up" and "40-Year-Old Virgin", while Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson stepped up with their own crew to give us "Old School" and "The Wedding Crashers".
For my generation, though, the most influential film was, arguably, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", starring several future Oscar winners, directed by Amy Heckerling and written by Cameron Crowe. It managed to capture the ennui of small town high schools, plus the rabid desire for love and approval - best of all, it ignited the imaginations of me and my contemporaries with that legendary scene of Phoebe Cates, stepping out of the swimming pool.
The success of "Fast Times..." eclipsed the release of another teen sex comedy, one that, perhaps, should have received more credit: "The Last American Virgin". It's an American remake of a very successful Israeli teen comedy, "Eskimo Limon", which went on to spawn -six? -seven? -eight sequels. Though it was based on a successful foreign film, "The Last American Virgin" went unnoticed and flopped at the box office.
For a small group of cult film fans, though, it was a far superior film, despite the terrible acting, the half-hearted production and the unbelievability of it all. Eli Roth is a massive fan of the film, going as far as to make his cast and crew watch it, as he prepares his own sex comedy, "Scavenger Hunt".
Directed by Boaz Davidson, the film centers around a group of three friends, each set to a stereotype, as outlined by Eli Roth: the Cool guy, the Nerd/Nice guy and the Fat guy. This divine trinity is an unlikely set of protagonists by today's Photoshop standards, but in the 80s, it was key.
The three boys only think about sex, and will do anything to get it. It's a remarkably shallow plot, and one that seems to be watered down compared to the intricate social hierarchy of "Fast Times...", but "The Last American Virgin" really steps into the clouds when the Nice guy falls for a girl, but she, naturally, falls in love with the Cool guy.
At the end, though, when the cute girl, played by Diane Franklin, with curly hair and an innocent smile, - when she gives up her virginity, gets pregnant and goes to the abortion clinic, it's here that we feel ashamed of our lechery, our desire for knowledge of flesh.
Teen sex comedies flourished in the 80s with the idea of carefree sex, and it's something I wished I had embraced as a teenager, instead of the crushing weight of paranoia about AIDS and STDs. Pregnancy seemed like something unreal, something that happened to adults, until a friend of mine announced that she was swollen with child, and that she would give it up for adoption.
"The Last American Virgin" ends miserably, which makes it transcend from mere obnoxious comedy into a film to be treasured. The idea of virginity, remarked in the title, seems less about the physical act of sex; it's more about the loss of innocence and the acceptance of pain in real life.
I say: If you can find it, grab it with more hands and never let it go.
See it for: The soundtrack, from '82, is epic by any standard: U2, Devo, The Police, Oingo Boingo, The Cars, and much, much more.
*this image is from This Distracted Globe
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