I think we’ve seen pretty much all there is to be seen from the teen hornball genre, so I won’t sit here and proclaim “The Virginity Hit” to be some revolutionary work of comedic madness. It’s far from innovative, inhabiting the same coming-of-age concerns as many a motion picture before it; however, there’s a cordial sense of humor to the feature that doesn’t only make it endearing, but almost lovable, if smut can be prized like a Pixar movie. Low-fi in all the right ways, the feature is a genuine surprise for the early fall, taking known, beaten, dried elements and infusing them with a sunny day temperament, approaching cliché with a glad hand and snappy sense of humor.
A pack of friends entering high school, Matt (Matt Bennett), Zack (Zack Pearlman), Jacob (Jacob Davich), and Justin (Justin Kline) have decided to make a pact with the help of a special bong, which may only be used when one of the boys loses their virginity. One by one, the guys have their hit, but dear old Matt can’t quite seal the deal, despite a two-year relationship with his girlfriend. Inching toward adulthood, Matt fails to find his first release, leading to a break-up, documented by his friends, who post the results on YouTube. Matt’s tale of virginity soon attracts major online attention, sending the boys on an adventure to help their dear friend find the right girl to make his life complete.
Sloppy boys and their boner woes. I know it’s difficult to believe “The Virginity Hit” has anything of value to offer the average filmgoer. Yet, directors Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland twist the formula ever so slightly, electing a mockumentary approach that captures the whole event from the handheld perspective of the teens. The format allows for general tomfoolery involving mild pranks, but the digital eye also creates a disarming intimacy with the core gang, conjuring a refreshing sense of authenticity to an otherwise conventional comedy. These are actors after all, but they’re genial performers, convincingly communicating a lifelong bond that permits such an accessible invasion of privacy, making the plot feel less like a crude sitcom and more like a bawdy home movie that’s spun wildly out of control.
It also helps that the kids in “The Virginity Hit” look and sound like kids, not a group of rehearsed comics from central casting brought together due to their sharp looks or conventional schlubbery. Yes, the boys fill the required positions of group friendship (the nerd, the funny fatty, the dimwit, and the dirtball), but the directors don’t throttle the stereotypes into submission, preferring to address the virginity dilemma instead, using the adolescent interplay of the pals to nab sizable laughs. These are fresh, funny young actors, and while their banter is coarse, there’s a kindness to the characterizations that’s unexpected, but entirely welcome. Thankfully, the filmmakers clip the compulsion to go cynical or sardonic, playing Matt’s journey with a miraculous sense of optimism, occasionally passing by tiny fragments of poignant backstory to ground the personalities, supplying a few creative financial roadblocks for the gang. It all comes together splendidly, highlighting a beguiling sincerity to the staged shenanigans.
Matt’s sexless misery doesn’t stop at a botched relationship. The filmmakers tie together a merry roller coaster ride for our hero, looping around a suspiciously willing YouTube fan who wants to solidify Matt’s manhood, and a special encounter with the jittery teen’s favorite adult film star, Sunny Leone. There are plenty of bombshells along the way to keep the premise afloat, sold through HD camerawork and a clever exploration of online video lawlessness, where humiliation is the primary currency.
“The Virginity Hit” isn’t revolutionary, but it’s a complete charmer: smut with a smile, executed without a series of winks or suffocated with sarcasm. It’s what “American Pie” should’ve been, tending to adolescent growing pains and rite of passage bruising with a commitment to bellylaughs and a hint of slack-jawed, faintly-mustached accuracy.