In The Last American Virgin, deceptive teenage boys are walking, stalking hard-ons and teenage girls are their confused, dimwitted prey. Boundaries are not only confusingly fluid, they’re never enforced. Mutual enthusiasm is rare. For a film about sex, it’s awfully joyless and disturbing. Released in the summer of 1982, this dangerous crapfest is as anti-feminist as it gets.
Early on, we meet Gary, a delivery boy for The Pink Pizza, a crude vagina joke if ever there was one. He’s fallen instantly for new student, Karen, a cute, curly-haired brunette. When he first sees her in a popular teen eatery, he does that thing all awkward, lonely, lovestruck guys do. He stares at her a little too long.
Later, through one of his friends, he finds her address. One morning, before she leaves for school, he drives by in the Pink Pizzamobile, gets out and deflates one of her bike tires. That way, she’ll have to ride in his car with him instead. Creepy. During the ride to class, he does another annoying thing by pretending to not correctly hear her name so she has to repeat it again and again. His game is so wack.
After being turned down for a date with her (because she’s busy), Gary goes to a party and becomes crestfallen when he spots his douchey horndog friend Rick dancing with her. Feeling a deep sense of territorial entitlement but not nearly brave enough to air his deeply felt grievances, he proceeds to get miserably drunk on Jack Daniels. Then, he’s asked to leave. And yes, he drives home drunk in the Pizzamobile. (He’s lucky he doesn’t kill anybody.) He further embarrasses himself in front of his family & their small group of guests by hitting on one of his mom’s friends and dropping a tray of drinking glasses.
When he’s not quietly moping, Gary joins Rick & their mutual friend Big Apple (a portly fellow really named David who locates Karen’s house) on gross sexual misadventures. Shortly after meeting Karen, a reluctant Gary is talked into entertaining three girls (picked up at that same popular eatery by David) at his parents’ place under the pretense that they’re throwing a drug-filled house party. (They’re only invited because they’re allegedly “easy lays”. Charming.) The girls make it clear they’re not interested in sex, just the drugs. In the film’s only funny scene, the lines of “Colombian cocaine” the boys offer is really just Sweet ‘N Low. The girls are too dumb to know the difference.
They’re also easily coerced sexually which is uncomfortable to watch. Despite saying stop numerous times while dancing to some vinyl, Rick’s date doesn’t actually end their endless make out session, especially when it moves over to the living room couch. Shortly thereafter, when they have sex in one of the bedrooms she notes in the middle of it she’s not on the pill. “Me, neither” is the callous reply. Again, nothing stops.
Big Apple’s date, the one who wanted the boys to keep their hands to themselves or they wouldn’t come to Gary’s house, is at first appalled when he mauls her in a different bedroom. (She thankfully makes him climb off of her in the middle of a refuted kiss.) Then, after saying she doesn’t want him to remove her blouse, she suddenly urges David to go outside, take off his clothes while counting to 100, then come back when he will discover that she will be naked, too. What?
Meanwhile, Gary is stuck with Millie, a bespectacled sourpuss who says “I don’t care” a lot yet still allows him to remove her shirt despite showing not the slightest bit of sexual interest. (She’d rather eat from that bowl of potato chips.) And then Gary’s parents come home just as he attempts to cut her stubborn bra strap while simultaneously putting her in what looks like a reverse chinlock. She has absolutely no reaction to this as she continues to munch away.
During one of his Pink Pizza deliveries, Gary meets Carmella, an oversexed Spanish woman who later services Rick & David during a return trip despite having a sailor boyfriend named Paco who picks the wrong time to pay her a visit. It must be said she is the only enthusiastic female in the movie, but of course this is seen as peculiar. She’s a “nympho”, after all, as an impolite David loudly declares. (It wouldn’t be an 80s sex comedy without all that harmful “slut” shaming. She’s not the only recipient of such antiquated thinking.) An impatient redheaded prostitute they encounter is far more irritable and, as it turns out, diseased. She’s so icky Gary becomes sick to his stomach after he gets his 30 dollars worth. And no, sitting in a chlorinated pool for many hours doesn’t cure the crabs, as these sexist idiots belatedly discover.
Completely oblivious to all of this is sweet, dopey Karen who makes the mistake of having sex with the sleazy, philandering Rick near the high school football field. Like Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, she pays the price for not using contraception. Rick soon blows her off rather cruelly and manipulative Gary finds his opening.
Unfortunately, he’s very controlling as he urges the meek Karen to get it together and not blab about her situation. (He actually looks for her at the football field like the insecure creep that he is.) Incredibly, after selling his stereo and borrowing some money from his Pink Pizza boss, Gary pays for her $250 abortion, a word that is never actually said out loud. Clearly expecting to be rewarded with her love, especially after declaring his own to her days after the procedure (she gives him a hug and a kiss after thanking him for being a good “friend”), he gets quite the rude awakening in the final scene which is supposed to be heartbreaking but is absolutely hilarious. Even funnier is seeing this jerk driving with tears streaming down his face as the end titles begin to run.
This point can’t be stressed enough. Gary’s “nice guy” act is so transparently phony, even naïve Karen, who gets knocked up by a different asshole and very clearly has low self-esteem, doesn’t fall for it. (Don’t believe her crocodile tears for one second. She never really wanted him.) In one respect, the ending is a twisted form of justice. In another, it’s a horrendously self-inflicted punishment on a confused kid who has zero clue what she’s doing. Considering all her pitiful options, she’s better off being celibate, quite frankly.
Speaking of punishment, in place of actual emotion, The Last American Virgin bombards us with repeated snippets of overly obvious early 80s pop ballads like REO Speedwagon’s Keep On Lovin’ You and Journey’s treacly Open Arms not to mention way too much Lionel Richie (via The Commodores). We care so little for these screwed up characters, almost none of whom are sympathetic (including the pervy, big-dicked nerd who looks like Fred Armisen), these garbage retro hits make us hate them even more.
While it’s always delightful to hear classic tunes from The Police, The Waitresses, Devo and The Cars on any soundtrack, they belong in a better movie. Ditto U2’s I Will Follow which is heard during the abortion sequence. In this context, Bono’s lyrics now mirror the domineering toxic masculinity of Gary as Karen passively gives him the reins to her own uterus. It’s an ugly juxtaposition.
It’s hard to feel too sorry for him when he attracts the genuine interest of Karen’s cute, bespectacled, bubble gum-loving friend Rose. (He even makes out with her in the front seat of a car.) But Gary wants the unattainable, the so-called dream girl that seems so close, yet is completely out of reach. And he’s not good at being vulnerable, not until it’s too late. By then, he doesn’t recognize the young girl he’s long fancied is a seriously flawed human being who can’t possibly live up to his overwrought imagination.
The boys in The Last American Virgin don’t see girls as their equals. They see them as reluctant play-things who only submit to aggression and chicanery, instead of consenting through honest, heartfelt connection. The girls are not autonomous, eager sexual beings but rather reluctant, conflicted receptacles who aren’t allowed to enjoy physical intimacy on their own terms. They only exist to please immature boys and not entirely willingly.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, April 20, 2016