The Virginity Hit, written and directed by Huck Botko and Andrew Gurland, hilariously chronicles the missteps and triumphs—and everything in between—of four teenage guys in their efforts to get laid for the first time. The title of the film refers to a celebratory hit of marijuana from a bong reserved for use only upon successful completion of one’s first foray into the world of sexual intercourse. Matt (Matt Bennett), the last of the boys to lose his virginity and on whose quest the film is largely centered, is a nerdy, good-hearted kid whose girlfriend of two years gets a little too drunk at a party and messes around with a college guy, sending Matt careening down a slippery slope of insecurity and self-doubt—the quick fix for which is apparently seeking ass from a series of unlikely sources. But ass continues to elude Matt despite his predictably awkward attempts to secure it, and he comes to learn the difference between sex and love only after he’s had a taste of both. (Incidentally, “I’ll fuck the taste out of your mouth” is perhaps the film’s most catchy pull quote.)
The difference between The Virginity Hit and, say, the exceedingly lame American Pie franchise, is the use of a formal storytelling device involving the constant production—and, for the audience, the perpetual viewing—of YouTube videos, a gimmick which legitimizes this trite and over-trod story terrain, upping the ante from slick Hollywood buddy comedy and moving into the territory of meta-fictional commentary. Zack (Zach Pearlman), Matt’s best friend and adoptive brother, is caught up in the desire to document every hilarious and embarrassing moment of Matt’s quest for sex and upload it onto the Internet for all the world to see. The banality of the actual story becomes more abstractly relevant in the context of a culture obsessed with self-documentation. But rather than just presenting a compilation of greatest hits (one group of friends’ funniest moments together), the narrative moves forward in hilarious and touching ways, the context always highlighting the punch line. It may be self-indulgent to post a video on YouTube of your friends partying together, but if you post enough of them, something emerges which is greater than the sum of its parts.
And this is what The Virginity Hit does best: By putting the audience in the position of a YouTube spectator, a story that everyone who has ever been a teenager knows all too well is able to function as a commentary on how we obsessively watch each other do things that we could easily be doing—or quite possibly have done—ourselves. Botko and Gurland missed the mark with their most recent screenwriting outing, The Last Exorcism, by trying to achieve a similar documentary realism as that of The Virginity Hit but ultimately failing to properly conceive of the actual audience for the film-within-a-film. A cautionary tale about fraudulent exorcisms turns, in The Last Exorcism, into a cautionary tale about demonic possession but never really becomes something that we should care about. Conversely, we find ourselves rooting for Matt as he comes closer and closer to taking his “virginity hit” in this sweet, funny film that capitalizes on our culture’s fascination with documenting the banal, successfully proving that voyeurism is alive and well—and that it can also be a lot of fun.