Like practically every teen-sex comedy ever made, The Virginity Hit centers on one young man’s first quest to get past third base. Skinny, gawky Matt (Matt Bennett) is the only one of a group of four friends who hasn’t gone all the way, although his longtime girlfriend Nicole (Nicole Weaver) is willing, and a date for the big ceremony has been set.
But Joseph Campbell was onto something when he said a hero’s journey is never easy, and Matt soon discovers that losing his virginity will be harder than pulling Excalibur from its stone. As his pals (Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich and Justin Kline) shadow him with video cameras, documenting even TMI moments that would better have been unshared, The Virginity Hit becomes a YouTube riff on the American Pie genre – a shaky-cam, Cloverfield / Blair Witch Project take on teen hijinks. The Internet is a veritable supporting character in the film.
The result is far funnier and much less annoying than you might expect. Filmmakers Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland use the hand-held camera angle ingeniously (even if they occasionally cheat), and you can’t always tell if the people who appear in the film are in on the joke, such as an overly friendly hotel manager who encourages the boys to trash one of his rooms. The lead actors, mostly unknown, are utterly convincing as hormonal, mischief-prone teens, acting and speaking the way real adolescents do. And the movie comes up with some hilarious, original scenarios (Will Ferrell and Adam McKay served as producers) that don’t remind you of any other teen comedy, which is no small feat.
The only way to tell The Virginity Hit was scripted and not entirely improvised are the situations in which the protagonists find themselves, whether trying to steal an expensive suit from a Ralph Lauren store or attempting to crash a college frat party. The movie also sneaks in surprisingly poignant moments, such as a sequence in which we learn that Matt’s mother died from cancer and his drug-addict father wiped out his college fund to fuel his habit (the kids’ payback on the deadbeat dad is more than justified).
Although its central premise could not be more hackneyed, The Virginity Hit still feels fresh and inventive. When you think back on it, you don’t remember these friends as fictional characters. Instead, you think of them as real people. Not a single beat in the film feels contrived or false. Everything that happens could conceivably happen to anyone with friends like these. In the case of the poor, perpetually humiliated Matt, though, better him than you.
Cast: Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich, Justin Kline, Nicole Weaver, Krysta Rodriguez, Seth Barrish.
Writers-directors: Huck Botko, Andrew Gurland.
Producers: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Chris Henchy.
A Columbia Pictures release. Running time: 85 minutes. Vulgar language, rampant nudity, sexual situations, drug use, all-around naughty adolescent behavior. Opens Friday Sept. 17 in Miami-Dade only at the Dolphin. Expands wide on Sept. 24.