Like "The Last American Virgin" for the YouTube Generation
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.
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.
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