A visually rough retreading of Superbad territory with a slightly more treacherous journey, The Virginity Hit has a surprisingly softer ethical edge than you'd expect. Four high school friends ritualize the end of their virginities with a hit from a kitschy, she-devil bong-it's a bong bought specifically to commemorate the boy's entries into "manhood," the goofy satanic reference potentially standing in for the scariness of it all. The final virgin of the group, Matt (Matt Bennett), is about to have sex with his sweetheart of two years, until drunken rumors fly and the team of young men recruit a parade of sordid options to help get the brokenhearted virgin deflowered. The Virginity Hit is backed by the comic muscle of producers Adam McKay and Will Ferrell, who follow in the funnyordie.com ethos with this feature length comedy built of ready-for-YouTube moments; it kind of is its own marketing device. The planned platforming of this film is an oddity: it will see select theaters in a few Heartland cities beginning the 10th of September, first only showing at select times (9:30pm for example) and then expanding the next week to another few cities, and the next week to another handful; the social media marketing push for this title seems built for a slow build and numbers should be strong.
More a casual documenter than an aspiring filmmaker, Zach (Zach Pearlman) likes to record the day-to-day events of his life and friends, Jacob (Jacob Davitz) and Justin (Justin Kline), and his adoptive brother Matt. They're upper middle class kids in New Orleans, in a context that seems to give them a lot of room to drink and debauch; meanwhile, they do the dirty work germane to high school seniors and grapple with their values. When Matt's girlfriend is naively manipulated into a moment of drunken nudity with a frat boy, Matt launches a full media assault on this heartbreaking viper, thus proving the greatest cruelties in this world of bikinis and accidental skin-play still revolves around vulnerability. What follows is a rehashing and inversion of this crime of the heart: Matt's humiliating breakup becomes a meme and he's found online by a willing temptress whose sexuality exists exclusively for the Internet, then his favorite porn star (a woman's whose sexuality looks to be the property of all) explains the preciousness of relationships to him. The conclusions of the film are as muddled and messy as the conflicts, but the interpersonal principles are kind and warm and perfectly unassailable.
Insofar as the film follows a sort of "first person shooter" principle of direction, the story gives us a significant enough number of excuses for the camera's presence, but of course there are a few cheats. The question of who's to blame for what happens to the characters is repeatedly shared with the camera--as if to suggest that half the cause of bad judgments, indiscretions, or innocent mistakes can be pinned on the person who exposed the humiliation; the initial embarrassments are part of life, the YouTube fame, less so. A gorgeous scene following a moment of online fame/shame brings vandals to Matt's house who litter the lawn with big-breasted blow-up dolls. Zach's mom takes her scissors and hits the wet yard to aggressively deflate them; the rain creates a wet T-shirt situation for her, thus showing off her size against the plastic nippled-balloons she's destroying, all the while she's befuddled "but why blow up dolls?!" (Why not ask "but why DDs?") This follows a scene of abject humiliation that will later be called "Matt's own fault," even if it was a mix of guilelessness and low self-esteem that spawned it. Inexperience and knowledge butt heads ever-presently in Virginity Hit, and the way we see these kids endure vulnerability and exposure is part of the harsh impact suggested by the title, but ultimately the characters and their shared intimacies are less than dangerous and all that too-casual comingling incrementally appears less like threatening exposure and more like the activities inside the protected circle of safe friends. That's both the point and the redemptive value of any adventure between four guys in high school, she-devil bong notwithstanding.
Cast: Matt Bennett, Zach Pearlman
Directors/Screenwriters: Andrew Gurland, Huck Botko
Producers: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay, Paul Young, Chris Henchy and Peter Principato
Rating: R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, drug and alcohol use.
Running time: 88 min
Release date: September 10 ltd., September 17 exp.