Last American Virgin (1982)

“Last American Virgin” was made in 1982 and gets comparisons to “American Graffiti,” due to having a very good use of early-1980s songs in the soundtrack.

First fifteen minutes

I thought that I’d discovered an overlooked teen comedy gem, at least one that I had overlooked.  When the soundtrack kicked into “Are you ready for the sex girls?” I thought that the movie had suddenly made that song’s classic use in “Revenge of the Nerds” (1984) look like a blatant rip-off.  It also seemed to have a really interesting “Superbad” vibe to it, with the casting of a poor man’s Jonah Hill and a poor-man’s River Phoenix as the hero’s buddies.

End of Act I

The ‘hero,’ a guy named Gary, fell for the ‘new girl,’ who was a cute brunette with frizzy hair (and oddly bad eyebrows).  She playfully declined his invite to a party after he gave her a ride to school.  Later though, at the party, we learned that she had come there with Gary’s River Phoenix wannabe (RFW) buddy.  Even worse?  RFW was a total ladies man who loved girls and then dumped them.  It seemed that RFW was going to go from Gary’s wingman protagonist to his bitter antagonist!  That was a great ending to a strong first act, although it made me like the Frizzy Girl less, since she had been rather dishonest to Gary earlier in the movie.  It was obvious that she wasn’t trustworthy.

Act II

After a wonderful start, the film went totally off the rails for the next 30 minutes.  It was as though the writers realized that they only had sixty minutes of plot and needed a ninety minute film for Cannon Pictures to release.  Suddenly, Gary and RFW are back to being buddies and Frizzy Girl disappeared.  The film spent a few long sequences in typical teen comedy hijinx.  First, there was a penis measuring contest with the other guys at school.  Then there was a weird older seductress whom both RFW and the Jonah Hill-wannabe slept with, but whom Gary predictably missed out on.

Frizzy Girl popped up again briefly in a retread of the typical make-out point scene-gone-bad, as a car being used by her and RFW shifted out of gear.  There was also a scene in which the guys hired a prostitute and Gary actually did seem to lose his virginity in very anti-climactic fashion.  One could easily argue that he was obviously not the Last American Virgin with a third of the film left to go. Afterwards, the guys all found out that they had crabs and it wasn’t funny.

Up until the 45 minute mark, the soundtrack had remained brilliant and its inspired use was a real highlight of the film, but then the songs began to repeat.  Their repeating threw me for a loop, as several songs actually repeated once or more (!?) in the final 45 minutes.

After lowering my expectations to the basement, Act II ended with some really wild twists.  RFW managed to sleep with Frizzy Girl whilst the audience was led to believe that Gary was going to walk in on them and stop it from happening.  That never happened.

Act III

The filmmakers continued to make unexpected, but not necessarily great choices.  At times, one could almost predict the writers following a roadmap whereby they chose the completely unexpected choice in a given scene.  That wasn’t normally a bad plan, but it became self-defeating and predictable after the ‘unexpected choice’ was chosen in every single major situation.

The film soon seemed to move ahead in time, rather jarringly, several weeks and Frizzy Girl was dumped by RFW.  Why?  Well, she was pregnant – most likely with RFW’s baby, but he seemed to imply that Frizzy Girl liked to sleep around, so who knew.  Neither character was overly trustworthy by that point.

Gary, trying to win Frizzy Girl over, paid for her to have an abortion!  I’d say that the film was pro-abortion, but an abortion was made to look like a pretty horrible thing to go through.  I’ll credit the filmmakers for playing that scene rather realistically, almost as a marginally-darker version of the Ben Folds Five video for “Brick.”  Weirdly, the very next night, Gary seemed to be trying to get into bed with Frizzy Girl.  That was a confusing scene in that he seemed to understand that she needed to recover from her recent procedure… but, did he care?  He managed to get at least a kiss from her after blurting out to Frizzy Girl that he loved her.  Even more oddly, Frizzy Girl came off as quite cold, having just had an abortion and, emotionally, she didn’t seem to care.  All she wanted to talk about was her upcoming birthday party.

Her birthday party?  Yes, everything was going great with Frizzy Girl, so Gary bought her a necklace as a gift.  When he delivered it to her at the party though, he walked in on RFW making out with her in her parent’s home’s kitchen!

The end.

Seriously, Gary got into his car, crying, and drove away.  The end.

Conclusions

I’ll admit that the ending was ‘realistic,’ but the ending of “American Graffiti” was just as creatively honest without being a complete downer.  Granted, “Last American Virgin” was so schizophrenic and the use of the soundtrack generally so good that it wasn’t a waste of time to watch.  That said, I couldn’t give it a positive review, since it was so lazy in the second act and whole third act was just so odd.  In hindsight, the female lead was a total two-face who repeatedly screwed over Gary.  Yes, she was cute, but even before the third act, I didn’t have much sympathy for Gary.  He was sort of an idiot for continuing to want to pursue the girl.  I couldn’t help but think that he got what he had coming in the end.

I’m not a fan of movies where characters were idiots.

My top teen comedies by decade remained:

  • 1970s:  “Animal House”
  • 1980s:  “Revenge of the Nerds”
  • 1990s:  “American Pie”
  • 2000s:  Undecided (I’d need to let this era settle more… maybe “Eurotrip” or “Superbad”… “Old School” should count, but probably doesn’t)

Honorable mentions:  “Risky Business” (1983), “Porky’s” (1982)

 


Brickman, Paul. Risky Business. 1983. Film.
Clark, Bob. Porky’s. 1982. Film.
Davidson, Boaz. The Last American Virgin. 1982. Film.
Kanew, Jeff. Revenge of the Nerds. 1984. Film.
Lucas, George. American Graffiti. 1973. Film.
Mottola, Greg. Superbad. 2007. Film.
Phillips, Todd. Old School. 2003. Film.
Schaffer, Jeff. EuroTrip. 2004. Film.
Weitz, Paul. American Pie. 1999. Film.

 

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