In Truth Or Dare, Warren Beatty famously observed that his then-girlfriend Madonna was so addicted to fame and public adulation that she didn’t want to live off-camera. Today—between Twitter, YouTube and other outlets—Madonna’s purported attitude is the rule rather than the exception. Like the forthcoming documentary Catfish, the new teen sex mockumentary The Virginity Hit chronicles a generation socialized to consider their lives entertainment. And like the recent horror hit The Last Exorcism, which was scripted by The Virginity Hit’s writer-directors, Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko, the film takes the form of a faux-documentary filmed by portly, film-obsessed, suspiciously Jonah Hill-like pal Zack Pearlman. The mockumentary format lost its freshness decades ago, but it perfectly suits an exploration of a form of narcissism unique to the YouTube generation. And along with the absence of familiar faces, it helps give Virginity Hit a loose feel and a jolt of verisimilitude.
Scrawny hero Matt Bennett, a trembly-voiced alumnus of the Jesse Eisenberg/Michael Cera school of adorably deer-like delicate masculinity, stars as the sole holdout among four friends who’ve made a pact to smoke the eponymous bong hit once they’ve lost their virginity. Bennett plans to lose his to his impossibly perfect girlfriend of two years. But when he discovers she’s dallied with a frat boy, Bennett and his friends hatch an ill-fated revenge plan that backfires and leads to Bennett’s first heartbreak. A mad dash ensues as Bennett’s pals try to help him get laid, a process full of detours and dead-ends involving Bennett’s frisky adoptive sister, an online seductress who’s too good to be true, and a surprisingly game porn star.
The process of coming of age and entering the world of adult sexuality is often defined by tenderness and vulnerability, two qualities sorely lacking in most teen sex comedies. But The Virginity Hit gleans a surprising amount of pathos and emotional resonance from the scars Bennett incurs from the ugly, public dissolution of his high-school romance. No matter how raunchy the film gets, Bennett never lets us forget that his character is in profound pain, even while attempting to perform oral sex on a transsexual blow-up doll. It’s a daring, sweet performance that almost single-handedly elevates The Virginity Hit from a standard Superbad knock-off into a film that feels raw, painful, and real.