Super-low-budget, shaky-cam faux reality has made its mark on horror films. Can it now do the same thing for teen raunch? The Virginity Hit is a smirky-naughty horndog youthsploitation comedy about a dweeb trying to lose his virginity. The movie has full-frontal nudity, lots of R-rated body-part talk, and the kind of outrageous-but-not-too-outrageous everydude spirit that made The Hangover a hit. This one, though, was shot on a shoestring, with a handheld camera, a no-name cast, and a plot that seems to make itself up as it goes along. It should have been called The Bare T–s Project. The co-writer-directors, Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland (they wrote the screenplay for The Last Exorcism), are shrewd commercial operators who are out to do something fresh (sort of). The Virginity Hit is a patchwork of American Pie and a hundred familiar losin’-it/road-trip/beer-bong comedies, and it’s often just as synthetic as any of them. Except that the cast gets some room to improv, and the home-video style — call it blockbuster mumblecore? — works cleverly because it emerges right out of the everyone’s-an-exhibitionist YouTube age. This is a tale of young men who literally can’t help but expose themselves.
Matt, played by Matt Bennett (the actors all use their real first names), looks like a runt Jason Biggs, and he’s the only one of his quartet of friends who is still a virgin. Yet he’s got a real hottie of a girlfriend, Nicole (Nicole Weaver) — the first tip-off that the film’s ”reality” is dosed with Hollywood fantasy — and he has planned out the night they’re going to sleep together: in a ritzy bed-and-breakfast, as if it were a graduation ceremony. That’s why his buddies secretly hook up speakers and hang out in the next room, listening in and giggling (along with half a dozen eye-candy girls who are in there with them). At this early point, I sort of hated the movie. It wasn’t remotely believable, so what was the point of staging the cheeky-corrupt peep-show slapstick in a vérité style, as if that would somehow fool us into buying it?
The magic sex evening does not go well. Nicole gets dumped for being unfaithful, and Matt, now free, attempts to solve his big problem any way he can. That’s when The Virginity Hit sort of kicks in. With Matt’s predicament revealed in an embarrassing video on YouTube, an innocently dangerous-looking 25-year-old sex freak (Savannah Welch) gets in touch with him via the Internet, wanting to sleep with him. And this we can sort of, kind of believe. To comply with the swinger’s wishes, he has to buy an expensive Ralph Lauren suit and shave his private parts, and there’s a desperation to all of this that hooks the audience right in. The big date isn’t just funny — it has the urgency of a comic horror film. It makes you remember how far a teenage boy will go when he’s decided it’s time to liberate himself by being bad.
The Virginity Hit is hit-or-miss. The road-trip stuff doesn’t really work; a raucous frat party does. The movie’s dirty banter walks a thin line between funny and stagy, but Botko and Gurland showed brash instinct when they recruited the real-life porn star Sunny Leone to appear as herself. She’s supposed to be Matt’s favorite adult-video actress, the one he thinks he’s in love with, and the way the movie builds to their dweeb/sex goddess encounter feels right. It gets at how the porn industry has colonized boys’ erotic dreams. Will The Virginity Hit be a one-shot? Or, in its homemade-Porky’s way, could it be revolutionary? At the very least, maybe it’s about time that a movie with this many masturbation jokes proved that you could do it yourself. B–