In 10 Words or Less
Like "The Last American Virgin" for the YouTube Generation
Loves: Mockumentaries, Frat House
Likes: Teen sex comedies
Dislikes: Hollywood endings
Ah, the innocence of youth... four teen boys make a pact that when each one loses their virginity they will smoke from a special bong (the titular "hit"). After some time, the last one still a virgin is Matt (Matt Bennett), a geeky guy whose first love breaks his heart, setting him on a spiral of pain. Along for the ride is Matt's "adoptive" brother Zack (Zack Pearlman), who films everything they do and has more bad ideas than two Jackass crews. To say things go badly for Matt as he tries to lose his virginity, in part because of Zach's twisted enthusiasm, is an understatement.
However, if you came into the movie expecting a laugh-riot sex comedy, (and who could blame you seeing Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's names attached and quotes like "American Pie mixed with Superbad") you would leave incredibly disappointed. While there are some laughs to be had, for a movie that's about a guy simply looking to get laid, it's a rather complex, well-rounded film that projects realism throughout, to the point where it becomes dark and painful as our hero's journey gets more and more difficulty. Unfortunately, in what seems like an attempt to achieve an "acceptable" ending, that realism was abandoned a bit. Considering how the rest of the film goes, taking it in a different direction would have been far more satisfying.
Even if the story slightly loses its way at the end, the appeal of the cast, is undeniable, from the young Andy Samberg that is Bennett to Pearlman, who is obviously a stand-in for Seth Rogan, to Nicole Weaver, who is excellent as Matt's love interest. It's rare to see a teen girl get to be a mix between sexy and goofy, as they usual get stuck on one end or the other. There's a lot to enjoy about the way these kids act like teens, as it just feels real, and that realism helps sell the mockumentary concept. If you've seen Bennett on the Nickelodeon series Victorious, you can see this performance is quite different from what he's come to be known for, and proof he's got some range, or at worst, Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko are great directors.
Easily, the film's biggest strength is the way it's visually presented, capturing the feel of a shot-on-video documentary (or more to the point YouTube clip) quite well. Watch this and Catfish (admittedly, a documentary that's the subject of many questions) and you might have a hard time deciding which is a mockumentary and which is real. It really embraces the connection the internet generation has with digital video, and after watching Gurland's Frat House (with Todd Phillips) and the Gurland and Botko-written The Last Exorcism, these guys may be the new masters of mockumentaries. For a movie loaded with shaky, grainy, seemingly artless footage, I have no real problem describing this film as beautiful, simply because it's so well made.
A one-disc release packed in a standard keepcase, this DVD has an animated, anamorphic widescreen menu, with options to play the film, select scenes, adjust languages and check out the extras. Audio options include English, Spanish, Portuguese and Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and a French Dolby 2.0 track, while subtitles are available in English, English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Chinese Traditional and Korean.
As one might expect from a film shot on a mix of consumer and pro-sumer digital camcorders, the look of the anamorphic-widescreen transfer is all over the map, with some scenes looking bright, vivid and clean, while others come off as dark and grainy, with available light being the main deciding factor. Basically, the discs look as good as the camera will let it.
Home-made YouTube clips rarely have impressive soundtracks and this movie is no exception, as even the Dolby Digital 5.1 track doesn't offer a whole lot in terms of aural oomph, outside of music enhancement in the sides and rears, and there's hardly anything dynamic about the mix.
The big extra is an audio commentary with Gurland, Botko, Pearlman, Bennett, and, oddly, Pearlman's dad, recorded in September of 2010, before the film arrived in theaters. I think I may be missing the joke with Pearlman's father, who keeps throwing in unfunny asides, but the others attempt to wallpaper the track with notes on how the movie was made and trivia from the set. You've got to enjoy the movie to enjoy this track, mainly because Pearlman dominates the discussion. The track is also available with subtitles in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean.
Screen tests (which run 6:47) are available from Pearlman and Bennett, where they perform scenes from the movie, including one that didn't make it into the final film. Casting them after watching these scenes was a bit of a no-brainer.
Zack's audition for Funny or Die runs 1:47, and is just Pearlman telling a tale of self-pleasuring gone wrong. He's got obvious charisma, but funny? Eh. He gets a chance to riff more, with aid from a walkie-talkie, in Line-o-Rama (3:28), an running exercise in improv. Unfortunately, it shows how limited he is, as his riffing is pretty weak.
One of the more unique featurettes I've seen is "Jersey Girl" (a bit under three minutes long) which focuses on Nicole Weaver, one of the stars of the film, who hasn't left her job at a popular theme restaurant in New Jersey, despite starring in the movie. A bit more of an in-depth view of her life post-film would have been nice, but something different is always welcome.
The Bottom Line
This film is an excellent example of a mockumentary done with an eye more tightly focused on realism than humor, and the resulting film is very affecting, if ultimately disappointing at the very end. The DVD is well-produced and features a nice spread of extras, but don't let expectations of a uproariously hilarious comedy ruin a well-made mockumentary for you.
Francis Rizzo III is a native Long Islander, where he works in academia. In his spare time, he enjoys watching hockey, writing and spending time with his wife, daughter and puppy.Check out 1106 - A Moment in Fictional Time or his convention blog called Conning Fellow
*The Reviewer's Bias section is an attempt to help readers use the review to its best effect. By knowing where the reviewer's biases lie on the film's subject matter, one can read the review with the right mindset.