The Last American Virgin (1982)
So this was not meant to be today’s post but thanks to the lovely gremlins of WordPress it accidentally got published without any words so in the interest of not having to explain why a post came and went…I’ll just post this. The Last American Virgin was a recommend from a listener of my podcast (which everyone reading this should be listening to at http://www.midnightmatineepodcast.com!). Normally, if I have only vaguely heard of a movie I’ll try to avoid it, just because I need some familiarity, but I decided to take a chance. The Last American Virgin came right in the middle of the 80s teen sex comedies that came out and boy does this one change the rules! The movie is unexpected, realistic, and a perfect blend of all the sensibilities seen in 80s sex comedies of the time.
Sweet, virginal pizza boy Gary (Lawrence Monoson) is in love with beautiful transfer student Karen (Diane Franklin). He’s all set to ask her out when he discovers his best friend Rick (Steve Antin), the Lothario of the group is dating her and intends to sleep with her. As Gary tries and fails at finding sexual conquests for himself, he tries to find a way for Karen to notice him.
The Last American Virgin has an interesting history. It came out four months after Porky’s, the origin of the 80s teen sex comedy, and two weeks before Fast Times at Ridgemont High (in fact it started production one day before Fast Times). LAV is comfortably nestled between its two predecessors, not just with the release dates but in terms of tone, as it’s not as raunchy as Porky’s yet not as adult and realistic as Fast Times. In many ways Fast Times and LAV are very similar to the point I thought someone borrowed plot elements from the other (even though LAV is a remake of an Israeli movie and is a faithful remake at that). You see teenagers learn the consequences of sex (both large and small) and ultimately how fleeting the first sexual experience is.
Gary as played by Lawrence Monoson (a precursor to Jay Baruchel) is in love with the sweet girl yet wants to have sex. There’s a subplot involving a nympho and a prostitute. Gary does seal the deal in the middle of the movie with the latter woman but feels so bad he gets physically sick. The shocking thing about the scene is that the vomiting is not at all played for laughs. It’s shown off-camera in a moment of Gary feeling utterly sick with himself and his actions. The peer pressure to have sex without feelings like his friends, isn’t for him and in this moment of degradation you feel for him. Where Fast Times did wonders at showing the first sexual encounter from the female’s perspective, LAV does so with the young man. His two friends are more caricatures as you have the loveable fat friend David (Joe Rubbo) and the douche/smooth talker Rick played by Steve Antin. If you don’t know Steve Antin he played the jerk in The Goonies and directed Burlesque….yes this guy played a Lothario in this movie….shocked me too.
The love triangle with Karen is where the movie ultimately doesn’t pander to conventions as ***SPOILERS Gary doesn’t end up with the girl! Yes, Karen ends up pregnant by Rick who obviously doesn’t want her so Gary, nice guy that is, helps her have an abortion. He thinks that the two will be together but when he shows up in the final minutes of the film he discovers Karen has gotten back with Rick! And the movie freaking ends! ***END SPOILERS
For me the ending was shocking, yet it was realistic. I don’t think I would have wanted the cut and dry, happily ever after as it’s been done in other teen films that don’t present first love realistically. I mean this movie does so well of showing the consequences of sex. Any film that devotes screen time to characters having crabs is an ace in the teen movie genre as STDs are almost never a factor in these films. While it’s a downer ending, it shows how unconventional this movie is, and ultimately how stupid the character in question is, Gary is ultimately going to be better off no matter what.
The Last American Virgin is a cult classic and supposedly set to be remade by Brett “Rush Hour” Ratner (UGH) so see the original and stare in awe at a movie that doesn’t play by the rules!
So general housekeeping I want to know from ANYBODY if they prefer the new background or the old one. I’m not really sold on either but I want to see what people prefer reading so let me know.
Kristen Lopez View All
A freelance film critic whose work fuels the Rotten Tomatoes meter. I've been published on The Hollywood Reporter, Remezcla, and The Daily Beast. I've been featured in the L.A. Times. I currently run two podcasts, Citizen Dame and Ticklish Business.
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