Feb 28, 2011

The Last American Virgin


One of my most watched but least favorite genres growing up was that of the teen sex comedy, especially those made in the glorious, round, jiggling, natural 1980's. On the one hand, the values on display in these flicks tend to be completely out-of-step with my own. The typical set-up of an attractive guy, fat party animal, and middle of the road audience member stand-in doing everything in their power to see glorious, round, jiggling 18-going-on-32-year old titties while terrorizing nerds and being completely entitled upper middle class homophobic assholes to a new wave soundtrack is not something I can particularly relate to. I attended high school once, and I remember these guys (exchange the new wave soundtrack for some emotive hardcore or gangsta rap, granted)...the popular date rapists who threw massive parties and called guys like me "fags" when they would attack us half-naked in the locker room. On the other, these films provide all kinds of wishful-thinking scenarios, and more importantly, titties, be they sagging and unconvincingly high school aged- big week-old grapes that would look more appropriate in front of a suckling infant than accidentally torn off at a sock hop- or those rare cases of a young actress with a bad agent and the most perfect set of natural, perky knockers that make an entire Animal House retread worth the hour and a half of stale "bitches are dumb, nerds are fags" "humor" for that one divine reveal (which, depending on format, you either pause or put on A-B repeat and then reach for the Kleenex). Also some nice asses, occasional bush, but yeah, mostly mammaries. Anyways, The Last American Virgin has many of the hallmarks of the teen sex comedy genre. It has the trifecta of fat party animal, attractive guy, and slightly more generic audience member stand in. It has the same attitudes toward women, both deeply misogynistic but completely true to the mentality of a teenage boy on the cusp of puberty/college age date rapist. It even features much in the way of insanely cruel nerd abuse, which is always good for a laugh, homo. What sets Last American Virgin apart, however, is that the sex feels somewhat more grounded in something approaching reality, the acting is a few notches above what the genre would typically require, the soundtrack is the holy grail - THE eighties teen new wave soundtrack to end all eighties teen soundtracks - but mostly it's the ending; one of the most heartwrenching, sobering, and altogether RESPONSIBLE endings to any film about young love and sex period, let alone something greenlit because of the runaway success of fucking Porky's.

The threadbare plot of Last American Virgin, as with most films of its ilk, concerns the plight of virginal Gary, a guy not quite as studly or funny and fat as his friends Rick and David, respectively, and his and his friends' efforts to get laid. Rick has little trouble in this department, looking like a less amiable Dennis Quaid (also looking about 27, though to the film's credit, a number of the films teenagers, including Lawrence Monoson, who plays Gary, actually look the part), and the guys land themselves in all kinds of wonderful set pieces, from the opening scene of substituting Sweet N Low for cocaine to convince a trio of girls to party at Gary's house to a visit to the local lonely Latin sexpot Gary encounters on his pizza route. This scene is particularly interesting as it has a certain sexual openness that I'm sure betrays the films origins as a remake of director Boaz Davidson's previous Israeli hit Eskimo Limon. Gary first encounters the dimestore Charo when making a pizza delivery and upon realizing she would like nothing more than to jump his bones, rushes off, calls his friends, and invites them over (is he scared? Perhaps sharing is caring?). Rick, of course, takes the lead, and his friends strip to their boxers and watch through the peephole to her room (with no mention made of sloppy seconds...these guys are nothing like my own friends) (and I can't say I've ever excitedly watched a friend having sex) (or have gotten sloppy seconds for that matter- eww). David is up next, and the fully nude sex glimpsed through the peephole is a tad more realistic and fully naked than I, for one, am used to seeing in these films. Of course, Gary being the Last American Virgin of the title and all, is cruelly interrupted before having his chance by counterfeit Charo's lover, on return from the Navy. Mucho hilarity ensues. Also of note as far as set pieces go is the perplexing but refreshingly male-appendaged scene early on when Gary and the rest of his gym classmates walk in on the resident nerd spying through a peephole which somehow leads to a boner-measuring contest set to "Whip It" by Devo. You will never hear the song again without picturing a marching line of bulging, bouncing boners straining through tighty whities (between this film and Love Exposure I wish there were more boners in teen angst cinema - it is a natural fact of life every guy deals with that is oft-ignored in these movies, or at least only hinted at and not shown. An erection is way more common to a teenage boy than using a remote controlled airplane to rip off a blouse housing Double D's, I would think). And best of all, the nerd wins! Though they do dump a bucket of water on the dweeb, fag.

As these misadventures are underway, Gary notices virginal, angelic Karen (played by Diane Franklin, the foreign exchange babe from Better Off Dead, maybe my other favorite eighties teen flick), whom he first meets by stalking to her home, popping the tire of her bike, and then offering a ride to school. For Gary, it's love at first sight. For Karen, love at first sight comes in the form of Gary's best friend Rick, the hot douchebag to end all hot douchebags. Gary comes to this realization at a party early on in the film, and a scene of him drunkenly attempting to talk to Karen as well as watching them kiss during a slow dance are performed wonderfully by Lawrence Monoson, who earns the pathos of his character with the perfect combination of pretend confidence, teenage assholishness, and affected puppy dog stares that eventually gives way to crushing defeat of the worst kind. As the film progresses, Gary becomes more and more resentful of the situation, but helpless to do anything due to loyalty to Rick. This plotline serves to address some real truths about young love and lust and is what bumps Last American Virgin up to classic status.

 For starters, there is the scene where Gary tries to distract Rick from taking Karen on the date in which he plans to take her virginity, inviting his friends in desperation to see a prostitute. It is here that Gary loses his Last American Virgin status, to a weathered, bitter whore who berates him the entire time within earshot of his friends, before leaving all three boys with genital lice. But where the film really takes off into unexplored territory within this genre comes after Rick deflowers Karen and dumps her promptly upon learning that she's pregnant. Gary promises to help Karen and he gets into it with Rick, severing their friendship. As Rick, making out with a new girl, David, and the rest of the class leave for a ski trip, Gary spends every last dime and then some to help Karen fund an abortion, and cleans out his grandma's house so she has a place to recuperate over the weekend. At the end of the weekend, he confesses his love to her and they share a kiss, but come time for her birthday party a few days later, Gary will learn that it is rarely the nice guy that gets the girl, and the film ends on a note that is incredibly surprising for something that up to a point just seems like a typical teenage-titty show. The montage in which Gary is raising the funds for the abortion and Karen is getting it performed, I must say, is one of the strangest I've ever seen in a film of this class. It is your typical "taking care of business", scrounging together every last dime in a sometimes comedic fashion eighties movie montage, only intercut with a sobbing Diane Franklin being readied for her procedure (to the tune of U2's "I Will Follow" no less?!). The film also begs some major questions, like sure, it sucks that the hot douchebag gets the girl in the end, but isn't using an abortion as an excuse to get close to a girl and popping her tire as a "meet cute" kinda creepy and all sorts of wrongheaded? Maybe the only lesson that Gary need take away at the end is not that nice guys finish last but that he acted like a creep, so fuck him. Either way, it's a sobering and responsible end to a teen sex movie to show that love and romance can also lead to itchy genitals and broken hearts.

One last thing of note- the soundtrack. Holy fuck, it's the holy grail of eighties teendom! The aforementioned Devo, The Cars (with particularly great use of "Since You're Gone") (best break-up song ever, by the way), Human League, The Waitresses, Journey, U2, REO Speedwagon's "Keep on Loving You" and much, much more. It's kinda like Grand Theft Auto: Vice City only instead of watching the murder of pedestrians and prostitutes you witness the murder of one young man's soul! And some great titties. Even if one pair of those titties are during a certain hard-to-stomach doctor's office scene, but, yeah...b-o-o-o-i-i-i-i-n-g.



The Angry Lurker said...

Good grief, this brought back memories, good music and female nudity, lots of female nudity.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

That gorgeous blonde bird showed her tits in the 1982 remake of "Cat People" as well and appeared in an episode of "Police Squad" (both the same year as this movie, 1982) and that other bird was in "Amityville II: The Possession" (also `82), do you remember the scene where she takes her night-dress off (just before the incest with her brother) ? that was such a sexy mo-girl-t.

Soiled Sinema said...

Indeed, the unhappy ending to this film was quite refreshing. It also seems that teen come-of-age comedies tend to better if they feature a young girl go from being a virginal sweetheart to having to abort a child in what seems to be a couple days. That is why I still appreciate "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" after all the years. First seeing Fast Times at the age of 10 or 11 was a living changing experience.
-Ty E

athena quispe said...