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20/20 Filmsight - Film Criticism by David O'Connell

 
Film Criticism by David O'Connell

Last American Virgin

October 30th 2008 21:13
Last American Virgin making out on the couch

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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Comments
6 Comments. [ Add A Comment ]

Comment by Norm

October 30th 2008 22:28

Comment by Bryn

October 31st 2008 01:35
I have a curious anecdote regarding this movie. A friend and I went to see it. We were 14, it was rated R18 (nudity perhaps???) ... But little did we know it had finished its season. Still, we were quizzed at the box office on our ages. We got in! We were stoked! Then the movie started and it was scratchy and old. "Dustin Hoffman in .... The Graduate". Say wha ...??!! We stayed and watched the movie and thoroughly enjoyed it. As we walked out we noticed the movie was rated R18, the movie's original 1968 rating (due to the nature of a mature woman seducing a young man).
So after all that we'd still managed to sneak into an adult movie. Never got to see Last American Virgin though.

Comment by Cibbuano

October 31st 2008 01:48
Norm, thanks for reading!

Bryn, it'd be hard to say that "The Last American Virgin" is an excellent film, but it has its appeal, and definitely stands out as one of the few films with an ending of misery.

"The Graduate" rated R18! What?? I don't remember there being anything too spicy, just that stripper with the tassles...?


Comment by Bryn

October 31st 2008 02:05
Cibby, as I said, it was given the rating due to the provocative and "forbidden" suggestion of sex between a man barely out of his teens and a woman in her 40s. Conservative times in NZ back in 68.
So what would have given American Virgin an R18 I wonder ... was there full-frontal nudity?? Graphic language? Under-age sex??

Comment by Cibbuano

October 31st 2008 21:30
full-frontal nudity implied drug use? Depiction of prostitution?


Comment by charotzki

June 18th 2009 22:11
i really love this movie . it really relates me . i love someone but she doesnt love me . i love her more than my life . but whatever i do to make her mine , or whatever i can do to make her happy , she 's not meant for me . Just like this movie . You can do everything for the one you love . but , you can't make it . Even though its hard , you have to understand that, that's the reality . you have to accept it weather its hard , coz its the truth . i love you very much julie . i can't forget u . whatever i do , i always thinking of you . i just take it to god, that whatever happens to me , that he'll take care of you , i love you so much!!!!!!!!!!!

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