In 2006, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell discovered a film called The Foot Fist Way. A small comedy about a Tae Kwon Do instructor who watches his life fall apart, McKay and Ferrell found it so hysterical that they felt the need to share it with the rest of the world. Because of that decision, we now have cult favorite Observe and Report and the incredibly hysterical television series Eastbound and Down. It’s unlikely that the newest McKay-Ferrell discovery, The Virginity Hit, will have the same sort of effect.
While it attempts to be a mockumentary parody of the overdone teen sex comedy, this results in a film that often feels pretty unoriginal. Virginity Hit makes heavy use tired tropes familiar to the genre, and too often blurs the line between cruelty and comedy. The movie is far from a complete disaster, with a few specific scenes that are well executed, but they simply aren’t enough to make up for what is basically a missed opportunity.
The story starts in standard sex comedy fashion – four friends (Matt Bennett, Zack Pearlman, Jacob Davich, Justin Kline) make an agreement that each time one of them loses their virginity, they take a hit from a ceremonial bong and recount the experience with the others. First to do the deed is Jacob, followed by Zack, and then Justin, leaving Matt as the only friend who has not had sex. Matt does have a steady girlfriend (Nicole Weaver), but when he finds out that she has cheated on him, they break up. Wanting to help heal Matt’s broken heart, his three friends get together to try and help Matt bust his cherry.
The script’s biggest problem is that nearly every major joke in it has been done before. We’ve seen plenty of movies featuring a girlfriend’s father being overly aggressive with the boyfriend. We’ve seen the “hire a prostitute” method in times of desperation. “Best friend’s hot sister” has been done to death. The situations are slightly skewed here, but not enough to make them feel new. Instead of being fresh and funny, it comes across as lazy.
Then there’s the matter of Matt, a sympathetic character who may be too sympathetic. Watch him makes you feel depressed and the comedy gets lost somewhere in that. You feel sorry for him when you’re supposed laugh. Matt’s back-story is the stuff Oscar-winning, hardcore dramas are made of. We are talking about a character not only considered the loser in his group of friends, but lost his mother to cancer when he was young and has an absentee, drug-addicted father, which left him to be adopted by Zack’s family. In The 40 Year Old Virgin Steve Carell’s character wasn’t having sex, but at least he was a fairly happy guy. At certain points in The Virginity Hit you wonder if it’s all going to take a deeply dark turn and end it all with a suicide.
The Virginity Hit, written and directed by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland, isn’t a complete waste thanks to the occasional funny scene and a healthy dose of teen raunch, but it isn’t a success. There’s potential here if Botko and Gurland had taken the time to flesh out and change some of the script’s more worn out elements. As it stands, the use of a shaky hand-held camera to film it is an interesting way to reach out to the YouTube generation, but that gimmick isn’t worth anything if you don’t have the substance to back it up.