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The Last American Virgin (Blu-ray Review)

Last-American-VirginThe Last American Virgin joins a stellar list of the “teen angst” genre of films that include Heathers, Fast Times at Ridgemont HighSixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Say Anything.  Directed by Boaz Davidson (Going Bananas),The Last American Virgin co-stars Louisa Moritz (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest), Brian Peck (Man On The Moon, X-Men 2) and Kimmy Robertson (Stuart Little, Honey, I Shrunk The Kids), and features a catalogue of 80’s hit songs by REO Speedwagon, Journey, The Police, U2,The Cars, The Commodores, and Devo.  By turns funny, dramatic and nostalgic, The Last American Virgin chronicles the ups and downs of friendship, romance, and the bittersweet memories of youth.

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Film 

The Last American Virgin, a coming-of-age story set in 80’s Los Angeles, is the story of a close-knit group of high school friends, Gary, the loyal friend; Rick, the ladies man; and David, the comic foil, and their exploits in pursuit of love … or at the very least … sex.

The Last American Virgin may very well be one of our best American teen sex comedies.  Its an outstanding raunchy sex comedy that blends quirky characters, crazy situations, real consequences and drama all with a complete sense of humanity.  Everybody looks back at the John Hughes films of the 80s or sex comedies like Porky’s, Meatballs or Revenge of the Nerds when it comes to “classics”.  But, I really think The Last American Virgin stands up to the test of time and makes those films ring hollow by being a complete package getting what those got right compbined with a second half of the film that goes where those before and after it fear to go.

Our film focuses on a group of three friends that, if you weren’t top flight elite in high school, you find easily relatable (probably moreso for those of us males).  You can see yourself and your friends in each one of these guys.  They’re at a point in their lives and their friendship where each is turning a corner.  The relationships are put to the test, challenged for the better and for the worse throughout the course of the film.  Things start out zany and fun, but they also get very real and very personal in the film.  And while we side with Gary most of this film over Rick, Gary isn’t too innocent himself and follows his own darkness to try and hurt Gary.  But, when the time comes to step up, its Gary who is the one who rises above.

Looking back at the cast isn’t a “OH wow, look at so and so and they’re young!”  Diane Franklin is the most recognizable of the bunch as the girl causing the rift, Karen.  Here’s her big film debut and she’s as stunning as ever.  Most guys had a thing for her, being one of the quintessential 1980s girl crushes.  She’d go on to have be in plenty of notables like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Better Off Dead and Amityville II: The Possession.  Her debut film performance (and only 2nd credit to her name) is a knockout.  She’s asked a lot in this role and she absolutely hits it out of the park.

The three friends in the cast gel quite well together and are plenty fun.  Reviews at the time of releases didn’t care for the acting in it, but I thought the three were great.  Being a massive fan of Friday The 13th: The Final Chapter, its a treat to see Teddy Bear himself Lawrence Monoson here as our lead Gary.  Monoson has an incredible amount of charm and heart in this role and gives a wonderfully emotional performance.  He nails his arc in the film.  Steve Antin is Rick and he’s well rounded enough for us to despise him, but also see his side of things enough to care about him and hurt to see he and Gary’s friendship go so sour.  Joe Rubbo didn’t do to much with his acting but he’s terrific comedic relief to go between our two friends in a skwabble.  As a Twin Peaks fan, I must mention Kimmy Robertson also provides a fun comedic quirky character that pops up frequently in the film.

Director Boaz Davidson directed a nice handful of films for Cannon Films throughout the 1980s, including the likes of Hospital Massacre and Salsa.  The funny thing is, The Last American Virgin is the second time he made this film.  He wrote and directed an Israeli film called Lemon Popsicle which depicts the exact same events that this film did.  The Last American Virgin “American-izes” that film, but still has some weird things that didn’t translate over.  As pointed out in the fantastic Canon Films documentary (due out later this year on Blu-ray), when Gary visits Karen in the hospital he brings a bag of oranges which seems to be the other country’s custom but looks weird in this film.

One thing that will win any first timer over right away is the absolutely killer soundtrack the film has.  I’ll never tire of hearing REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You” or hearing Steve Perry croon me some “Open Arms”.  This thing is STACKED!  I almost wonder if the entire budget went to the soundtrack.  Its not like these bands were just up and coming at the time and they lucked out.  These are BIG BANDS playing some of their BIG HITS.  Whether you are a fan of these groups or songs is besides the point.  If you know a thing about filmmaking, getting music rights and that hub bub, its damn impressive.  I’m just going to list out who’s here at the party and try not let to mouth open to wide; Journey, U2, The Police, Blondie, The Commodores, Quincy Jones, The Cars, Tommy Tutone, Devo, Oingo Boingo, KC & the Sunshine Band and many others who may have been bigger at the time this came out.  For a little Cannon Films production, this is a big deal.

While I do feel there are outlets that have praised and continue to praise The Last American Virgin, its still not enough of them.  I think it should be higher than many or most of its contemporaries.  Porky’s is shit compared to The Last American Virgin.  Virgin delivers the same raunch and laugh out loud sequences, but has an actual story and drama to tell.  This film is very personal, very human and realizes that there’s a lot more that comes with the deviancy that those films tend to highlight.  There’s a lot of weight to this movie.  It also has a shocker of an ending that will leave you a little cold, but having felt something very strong.  When you grew up a geek, the nice guy, the one a little behind on things, the shy person, the less confident individual…whichever one of those you may be…you’re going to see a lot of the personal dramas of growing up right here in front of you and be attached to this movie.  The Last American Virgin isn’t just an also ran teen sex comedy from the golden era of them in the 1980s, its a bona-fide coming of age classic.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail:  I really enjoyed the image for The Last American Virgin.  Details run very good, from the character on top of Gary’s pizza delivery car to texture and fabrics on clothing, its pretty distinct when something gets attention from the camera.  There are minimal areas where it looks smooth, but all in all its a pretty impressive transfer and the film feels full of life with a good looking image like this.

Depth:  Depth is pretty solid and a tad above average.  Movements appear smooth and cinematic.  Background imagery has clarity whenever the focus allows it to be that way.

Black Levels:  Blacks are pretty rich.  Some detail is hidden when its pretty consuming and the character has dark hair, clothing.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors pop but manage to keep a handle on themselves and not bleed through.  The 80s-ness of it all comes to life very well.  The film also keeps its colors to a very natural feel as evidenced when a scene is in Gary’s parents or grandma’s home.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and stay that way throughout.  In close ups, facial detail such as dimples, wrinkles and make up fair really well.

Noise/Artifacts:  There is some grain and dirt/specs throughout.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics:  The jams on this movie sound absolutely dynamite.  The instrumentation is distinct and loose.  The performances come front and center and get you grooving on your couch.  The rest of the film knows how to place the sound effects and vocals in the mix with precision.  Effects feel free and distinct for the most part (some a hint of analog that is source related).  All said and done, this is one of THE best 2.0 tracks on a vintage catalog title from Olive Films that I can really recall.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction:  Vocals are placed perfectly in the mix.  They are loud, clean and have good clarity.

Extras 

The Last American Virgin contains no supplemental features.  Menu offers “Play Movie” and “Chapters”.

(Those readers who are region free and a big fan of the movie may look to the UK for Arrow Video’s release)

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Summary 

The lack of bonus features really pulls down this overall score.  Olive Films has delivered a wonderful looking and sounding Blu-ray of an overlooked teen comedy classic.  Also, with the knowledge that there are interviews with the director and primary cast out there on other editions of The Last American Virgin, the materials are available for this to be a better release.  Even if, at least Olive Films put this one out whereas other studios may have passed.  I was amazed at how taken I was with this movie and how, despite the fun of its time period, the theme and central plot of the movie holds very well today.  To me, this may be the best of the bunch of 80s teen sex comedies as it has a sense of humanity with its deviant zaniness and a story that ends up feeling very personal and does have consequences with characters atoning for their actions.  Fans, collectors, pick this one up.

 Last-American-Virgin-Blu-ray

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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