Losing it is the name of the game in The Virginity Hit
The male-deflowering, coming-ofage cinema cycle has been a reliable box-office staple, and the genre seems to always get played for laughs, especially when the world’s dorkiest guy is the movie’s focus. Add to the long list of lads-getting-laid epics The Virginity Hit (Columbia; 90 minutes; R; 2010), a lowbudget mockumentary bankrolled by producers Adam McKay and Will Ferrell that goes for lowbrow laughs at every turn yet somehow boasts a few virtues amid its sea of raw randiness. A box-office cherry bomb when initially released, The Virginity Hit is now out on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
The thumbnail plot from writers-directors Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland (both also penned last summer’s cheesy horror hit The Last Exorcism, likewise a mockumentary) has bespectacled nebbish Matt (Matt Bennett, from the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious) attempting to consummate his two-year relationship with the pretty, smart and willing Nicole (Nicole Weaver). But all bets are off when Matt learns through the grapevine that perhaps Nicole isn’t the virgin he thinks she is, following the aftermath of her attendance at a crazy frat-house bash.
As karmic payback orchestrated by Matt’s beefy stepbrother Zack (Zack Pearlman) and their clique of idiot high schoolers, Matt agrees to the planned seduction and immediate breakup with Nicole. Secret recording devices capture the action, with the results posted on the Internet. But that’s only the start of a cavalcade of humiliations for poor Matt, as Zack’s probing videocamera documents subsequent episodes of further degradation such as Matt’s acceptance of possible sex with a sympathetic older woman (Savannah Welch) and a titillating rendezvous with Matt’s favorite XXX-rated actress (real-life porn star Sunny Leone).
Imagine an updated version of Tom Jones rewritten by Andrew Dice Clay and you get a quasi-rough idea where the crude, rude and lewd Virginity Hit is heading. The movie has a do-it-yourself visual immediacy, owing to its filming with hand-held video cameras; there are moments when you can pause the DVD and note the moiré effect. Yet the moviemakers also use that voyeuristic quality to satirize the YouTube-ization of the current generation, who don’t seem to realize that their very improper chronicles are forever immortalized on the Internet.
It’s also interesting to note that Gurland and Bocko have seemingly revisited other cinematic rites of passage for their movie. A scene involving the purchase of condoms fleetingly recalls a similar instance in Summer of ’42, for instance, although only film nerds like yours truly will link Virginity Hit’s pornstar sequence to the 1965 comedy Dear Brigitte, in which harried dad Jimmy Stewart and his precocious son try to meet Brigitte Bardot. For most of The Virginity Hit’s running time, the flick adheres to the sure-fire templates established by 1980s-era slob comedies like Porky’s and The Last American Virgin.
Yet between the bongs, booze and boners, the movie occasionally goes off into strangely compelling tangents, such as the interlude when Matt learns that his estranged widowed father (Seth Barrish) has blown his son’s nest egg on drugs. Even the scenes with Sunny Leone have an unlikely sweet nature, as she chastises Matt for his literal tit-for-tat actions. How times have changed: More than 30 years ago Deep Throat actor Harry Reems was cast, then dropped, for the gym teacher role in the 1978 movie Grease, porn actresses such as Leone—as well as Gianna Michaels and Riley Steele, both playing victims in Piranha 3-D—can more easily segue from seedy cinema to mainstream multiplex fare.
Much like other productions from the Ferrell-McKay team such as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Other Guys and the HBO sitcom Eastbound and Down, there’s a loose, shaggy improv flavor throughout The Virginity Hit. The backdrop of these suburban teens hanging out in nouveau-riche sections of New Orleans is an unfamiliar sight not glimpsed in most Big Easy-based movies, which either go straight to the swampland or the French Quarter.
More refreshingly, the on-screen kids are about the same age as their immature characters, and they utter nary a wheezy one-liner that seems written by a veteran scribe from a Charlie Sheen sitcom. Their sophomoric adlibbed dialogue is supremely raunchy and not all that funny, either, but the retorts somehow sound real, especially for the movie’s targeted demographic. Matt Bennett has a Jason Biggsish flair for gaining empathy from various indignities, while newcomer Zack Pearlman looks to be playing similar riffs of the boorish best buddy for the next 50 years. The Virginity Hit is not for all tastes, especially prudes; judging from the film’s title, you know in advance what you’re getting into, so to speak. Yet much like an STD, this comedy is often annoying yet it also kinda grows on you.
The Virginity Hit employed an odd marketing campaign that combined Internet presence with misguided screening times (in Syracuse, the movie only played late shows on Fridays and Saturdays for two weekends), but that’s the sort of viral technique which seems to work only every 10 years (see The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity). Thus, the low-budgeted (just $2 million) feature still lost money with a final tally around $630,000.
Sony’s DVD release, however, offers more extras than you’d expect. The movie’s 1.85:1 ratio is retained, as well as its spiky stereo soundtrack filled with up-to-the-minute fringe rock bands. The commentary track with directors Botko and Gurland and actors Bennett and Pearlman is a largely spontaneous affair, with off-the-cuff comments and some dishy tidbits, like the fact that Bennett needed a body double involving scenes with a tranny love doll (don’t ask).
Also on the disc: the seven-minute screen test with Bennett and Pearlman (back when their screen characters were named Stewie and Cole), the two-minute audition video that Pearlman submitted for Ferrell and McKay’s Funny or Die website and nearly four minutes of Pearlman ad-libbing a ream of bad lines with some coaching from his co-directors. The best featurette is “Jersey Girl,” a three-minute sliver of post-production information regarding actress Nicole Weaver, who didn’t go Hollywood after Virginity Hit’s filming ended in the summer of 2009, but instead remained a hometown girl employed at a TGI Friday’s in Flemington, N.J. “She’s a team player,” says her manager, “always positive and upbeat-and I really hope she doesn’t leave.”
Candid camera: Zack Pearlman captures the meeting of the minds between Sunny Leone and Matt Bennett in The Virginity Hit.