May 28, 2004
See It Or Be It — THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN.
I remember sneaking into the theater as a teenager to watch what I hoped would be a life-changing experience. It was R-rated and held the promise of naked girls. I remember being bored even then. I also remember how FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH opened within weeks of this one and how that became my watershed film while LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN became nothing more than my first exposure to U2.
Spoilers follow, but in this case it may actually improve your viewing experience.
This film is terrible, don’t let the revisionist reviews online fool you. Its one saving grace, if you can call it that, is that the final 60 seconds before the credits are different than every other film of this ilk. More truthful and honest. More depressing, and therefore lifelike. And the final sixty seconds may have the only above-average acting of the main three leads in the whole film.
There are four major characters.
The nerd guy, Gary, who looks like a poor man’s Ralph Macchio, always has a strange for its era Sha Na Na hairstyle. When viewed through 2004 eyes, he appears to be at the very least, metrosexual, if not completely favoring the boy team. His tight jeans are pulled up, his silky t-shirt is tight. His mouth never opens more than a few millimeters, even when yelling–he must have taken the Bruce Springsteen course in speaking without opening your mouth. After checking his bio, I should have seen him in ER and other well-thought-of television, but I can’t recall ever seeing his face again.
The cool guy, Rick, at one point wears a tight pink tanktop. Which he somehow pulls off. This guy was in the Goonies and now does script work. His bleached hair and suave attitude, make him the official film dickhead.
The final member of the threesome is David, who is the official fat guy of the group. Setting him apart from all the other fat guy friends in movies is that he acts as if he’s normally sized. He strips in front of people, pushes to the front of the line when sex is offered, and is just as cocky as any other teenager.
The femme fatale, I’m told, was in BETTER OFF DEAD, playing the foreign exchange student. Despite her bushy eyebrows and dead-ringer-for-Ann-Wilson-of-Heart haircut, she really is quite pretty. Too bad her line delivery had me checking to see if she had fallen asleep during filming. In her favor is the fact that she is just as one-dimensional as all the boys are in the story.
Nerd delivers pizza in company station wagon. Sees new girl, falls in love, new girl likes cute guy instead, fat guy tries to get all three boys laid. Cute boy impregnates cute girl, nerd sells and steals and borrows to pay for her abortion, confesses love for cute girl, walks in on cute girl and cute boy kissing as if nothing had happened.
–Fellas, raise your hand if you grew up in the 80s, like I did. Now remember how you were constantly hanging out in a locker room, whipping up a hard-on and then getting in line where two of your buddies would measure each boy and declare who had the biggest tool? Me neither. That scene, while brave to film, was wrong in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start. This has never happened. 16-year-old boys, surprised that they have pubic hair growing, and coming up with new and interesting ways to avoid showering in front of people, would never get themselves excited and stand in line in their BVDs to be judged by classmates.
–The music was great. Seriously. Head and shoulders above FAST TIMES. With the exception of Sammy Hagar’s title track in FAST TIMES, a song he copied from his own title track in HEAVY METAL. We get Oingo, U2, Journey, Lionel Ritchie, and who can forget the haunting words “I did my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough…”? I WILL FOLLOW is juxtaposed with a clinical abortion scene is some weird subconscious dig at Irish abortion laws. Or maybe it made a good montage score.
–The three boys have unprotected sex with a hooker. Check that off the list when they do the inevitable remake. You simply can’t do that kind of scene unless there is some sort of cosmic payback. Catching crabs, which the boys do, is probably the most harmless result that could have happened to them after banging a slut in a basement somewhere. Oh, how cute, they got crabs.
–In other scenes that couldn’t be filmed today, Nerd guy realizes that cute guy is making headway with cute girl so he picks up a full bottle of Jack Daniels at a house party. I want to stop there. He’s 16, he goes to someone’s parents’ house for a party, he arrives late, he finds a full bottle of Jack sitting on the refreshment table. Do you remember how much work and money it used to take to get bottles of booze as a teen? Shoulder-tapping, overpaying a college friend, spending 40 bucks that didn’t come easy. But it’s just laying there. No one is collecting money. No one is jealously guarding their booze stash. Anyway, he gets good and drunk, creating a scene that is so badly acted that you wonder if the guy had ever had a drink in real life. So we know he’s messed up, and after the fat guy falls in a pool (see teen comedy moment number 7), he walks drunk guy to the car where he insists that he drive himself home. Nerd can barely stand, but no one raises an eyebrow about his driving a station wagon (the Hummer of its day) home while drunk.
–an almost-as-cute-as-cute-girl all but throws herself at nerd, but he continues to pine for most-cute-girl, even though she barely gives him the time of day.
–nerd guy challenges cute guy to fight in library.
–nerd guy opens his heart to cute girl after abortion, nurses her back to health, going so far as to pull her t-shirt down, when she falls asleep with it riding up her chest. He cooks her breakfast, they kiss, he’s in love.
–nerd guy, after coming up with $250 for her abortion, miraculously finds $80 more in his pocket to buy her a gold heart for her birthday.
Just not a good movie. There are a couple of redeeming qualities. The music. And there are scenes of dances where you simply cannot believe what the kids are wearing. And then you think back. I had acid washed jeans with a white tank top under a pink paisley fleece shirt. Who am I to talk. There is one guy who is actually wearing one of those red plastic Devo hats. All the white kids (and they are all white, except the glimpse of a black guy in the library), do the hopping on one foot dance made popular by Belinda and Sting. Every third kid has a headband on. Good as a time-capsule.
**^ Maltin: “Formula teen comedy-drama (derived from one of Cannon’s Israeli-made LEMON POPSICLE films) works thanks to attractive and talented young cast. Monoson has the title role, with pals Antin and Rubbo trying desperately to find a willing girlfriend. Moritz is very funny as the stereotyped Latin bombshell.”
Time Out: “Accompanied by a mediocre music score (Commodores, Cars, Blondie, etc), three moronic youths are herded through puberty and the dreary rites of passage all too familiar from endless similar films (comparing pricks, humping hookers, necking in the back of borrowed cars, spying on girls in the shower). The viewpoint is predictably phallic: fear/contempt of the female festers like a squeezed pimple; an abortion is shown more lasciviously than any sex. PUBERTY BLUES and PORKY’S look positively progressive beside such sickening junk.”