[box cover]

The Last American Virgin

A bizarre combination of bawdy sexual humor and bittersweet teenage pathos, Boaz Davidson's The Last American Virgin (1982) has survived some harsh critical slings and arrows over the years (along with unavoidable comparisons to the more polished Fast Times at Ridgemont High) to remain one of the most notorious, and curiously beloved, sex comedies of the 1980s. Produced by the prolific duo of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, it's striking today as an unflinching coming-of-age flick that would all be in terrible taste if it wasn't so strangely sincere. Intended as the first installment of a trilogy based on Davidson's popular Israeli Lemon Popsicle series (a very crude answer to American Graffiti), this incarnation is set in then-"present day" Hollywood. The loosely-structured narrative centers on three hopelessly horny high school kids as they conspire to score at any cost. The protagonist of the piece is the shy and sensitive Gary (Lawrence Monoson), who falls for the class princess, Karen (Diane Franklin, who would later play French exchange student Monique in the cult favorite Better Off Dead). The problem is she's only got eyes for his studly best friend, Rick (Steve Antin), who knows of Gary's crush on Karen and is therefore in violation of the sacred "dibs" ethic. The third member of the trio is David (Joe Rubbo), a rambunctious, John Belushi type who doesn't let his weight problem deter him from the noble pursuit of tail. For the most part, the film is an episodic collection of juvenile sexual escapades, with a heavier dollop of drug humor than was evinced in most other teen films of that era. The picture begins with the boys luring three hot-to-trot girls back to Gary's parents' house under the false pretenses of being in possession of cocaine. What they have is Sweet n' Low, which works well enough since these girls are only playing at being experienced. Soon enough, the kids are paired off and ready to fornicate, meaning that that's the parents cue to come barging back into the house to find all manner of bacchanalian behavior goin' down. It's an amusing scene, but, as with many of Davidson's other outrageous scenarios, it doesn't play out to its full uproarious potential. The writer/director seems satisfied with simply presenting these situations and letting them unfold naturally, which, while more realistic in a way, effectively undercuts any chance for the gags to induce major belly laughs, as was likely intended. It's an odd failing somewhat exacerbated by the lackluster performances across the board, with only Kimmy Robertson (Lucy of "Twin Peaks" fame) leaving much of an impression as Karen's best friend, Rose. As Gary, Monoson's sympathetic enough, but he's constantly struggling against the self-pitying tenor of the character as written by Davidson. Oddly enough, though, it's precisely that miserable, "woe is me" attitude that makes Gary so real. In high school, every crush seems a matter of life or death, with one's happiness forever staked on landing that unattainable goddess of ripening sensuality. And, true to lovesick teenage form, Gary has decided to save himself for Karen, even though he knows she's likely to give it up to Rick. Sure enough, Gary's worst fears are imagined; however, Rick doesn't just take her virginity, he leaves her with the added burden of an unwanted pregnancy. At this point, Gary swoops in as her savior, trying desperately to raise the money for Karen's abortion in an effort to prove to her that he is the only one of these hormone-addled sexual predators that truly cares for her. The parallels to Fast Times are obvious, but what sets this film apart is how it speaks only with a young adult's voice, refusing its characters the more mature, and distancing, perspective of the older filmmaker. Thus, when it arrives at its shockingly abrupt, and daringly unhappy, ending, Davidson is able to nail that stark final shot without it feeling at all silly or overblown. That's terribly important as well, because, ultimately, this isn't a film of a boy's first time, but a boy's first loss, and what he captures at the end is a lovelorn teenager's vision of the end of the world. We might know better now, but it's instructive, and maybe just a bit cathartic, to remember when we felt so fully. Also helping to reacquaint us with our younger, stupider selves is the film's excellent soundtrack, which is loaded with evocative '80s-era tunes by such artists as diverse as The Cars, Quincy Jones, Journey, The Commodores, REO Speedwagon, and, in a very early career appearance, U2 (you'll never hear "I Will Follow" the same way again). MGM presents The Last American Virgin in a great anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The only extra is the film's theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks



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