Directed by: Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland
Premise: A pseudo-documentary about a teenager (Matt Bennett) trying to lose his virginity while his friends record his misadventures and broadcast them on the internet.
What Works: The Virginity Hit is an attempt to make an original film about male teenage sexuality and it at least partially succeeds. The cast of characters in the film all look and behave like teenagers rather than the obvious post-teen actors who usually populate these kinds of films. Their acting is very natural, which adds to the film’s documentary look (although at times their teenage mannerisms are annoying) and most of the pranks and foibles that the teens find themselves involved in maintain a credible dimension. The pseudo-documentary format also helps the film’s credibility and the integration of digital media and social networking platforms in both the presentation of the film as well as in the content of the story give it an added currency. There have been a lot of raunchy comedies over the past decade and The Virginity Hit is at least as vulgar as any of them. But in this film, in part because of its pseudo-documentary format, the gags take on an added punch. A lot of the bawdier moments involve the indignities suffered by the lead character and his anxiety about sexuality is tied in a vicious cycle with his humiliations, with one amplified by the other. Something the film does impressively, although somewhat subtly, is to reveal that the teen’s sexual obsessions are really a manifestation of deeper fears of inadequacy. This is done especially well in the climax as the protagonist gets love advice from his favorite porn star, played by real life adult performer Sonny Leone. That meeting of fantasy and reality is a meaningful moment, especially in the context of a pseudo-documentary and given the digital and even pornographic nature of The Virginity Hit. Although the film does not maximize the potential of that moment, its presence is enough to allow the film to confront some of the myths, expectations, and understandings that individuals and society have built around topics like love and sexuality.
What Doesn’t: Although it is told in the pseudo-documentary form, The Virginity Hit is fundamentally a standard romantic comedy and the film hits most of the conventions and customs of the genre. The presentation of the story is unique and its characters have a lot of reality to them and that makes the stock elements of the plot excusable. The ending of The Virginity Hit is a little more troubled. It comes across much more scripted than the rest of the film and its neat wrap-up of the main character’s quest threatens the credibility of the film.
DVD extras: Screen test, commentary track, and outtakes.
Bottom Line: The Virginity Hit is not a film for everyone. Even for a pseudo-documentary its presentation is rough and the humor is adolescently vulgar. But what The Virginity Hit does well is present a familiar story in a unique way with authentic characters and in the process provide some insight into teenage sexuality, the social pressures around it, and the anxieties that it evokes. In a way, this would be an interesting companion picture to 2009’s Paperheart, a pseudo-documentary that took on the issue of romance from the female perspective.
Episode: #340 (May 22, 2011)