Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 15th, 2013
BluRay released: September 23rd, 2013
Approximate running times: 93 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £13.99
It is not surprising that when it was originally released that The Last American Virgin struggled to find an audience. It had the ingredients one would expect from a teen themed comedy from the 1980’s and yet it was unlike anything that had been made up to that point or no film has been able to replicate the impact of its jaw dropping finale.
The plot revolves around a trio of friends, Gary ‘The nerdy one’, Rick ‘The Heartthrob’ and David the overweight friend that provides much of this film’s comic relief. That is the first act of the film starts off as their story. By the middle act another main character a young woman named Karen catches the attention of two of these friends Gary and Rick. And you guessed it; the girl went with the more attractive of two. Along the way Karen and Rick breakup when she reveals that she is pregnant and Gary who has been pining from afar steps in to clean up the mess. This sets up a third act where it appears that the less popular boy is going to end up with the girl?
To reveal anymore of the plot would take away from what is arguably one o the best closing acts in the history of teen coming of age films.
Content wise this film employs most of the clichés one would except from teen comedy from the 1980’s. And though things start off with a more subversive sense of humor, somewhere during the middle act there is an abrupt shift towards a more serious tone that rides on out until this film’s unforgettable climax.
Where far too many teen themed comedies focus more on the humorous areas of the stories at hand, The Last American Virgin proves with crystal clear clarity that it is possible to make well rounded characters that exude all emotions, not just humor. Especially in regards to this film’s protagonist Gary, this film is after all his story.
Visually the film is head and shoulders about all other of its contemporaries. And some of the credit is due to this films cinematographer Adam Greenberg who shots the entire film via the handheld cameras. Not only does this style of cinematography add a level of intimacy to the story at hand. It helps the film maintain a sense of urgency in this film’s pacing that does not let up for one moment. Not to be overlooked this film’s soundtrack is a virtual who’s who of new wave from the early 1980’s.
Performance wise the majority of the main players where all first time actors or at least this was their first feature film. And though all of the performances are really good, of the three actors who characters are involved in the aforementioned love triangle, it is Steve Antin (Sweet Sixteen) in the role of Rick that leaves the weakest overall impression. On the other side of the coin this film’s most durable asset is its leading man Lawrence Monoson (Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter) he gives a heartfelt performance that will stay with you long after the film’s final moments have faded off the screen. Rounding out this trio of actors is Diane Franklin (Better Off Dead) in the role of Karen, the object of two boys desires. From a visual stand point she most definitely fits the bit of ‘Object of desire’ to a tee. Performance wise she has the most difficult role in the film and somehow she pulls it off in such a way it is damn near impossible not fall for her all over again. Ultimately The Last American Virgin is a thought provoking and at times unflinching exploration of adolescence that deeply resonates long after its final moment of clarity.
The Last American Virgin comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Quality wise though this film is a marked improvement upon all previous home video incarnations, the end result it not without its short comings. It should be noted that this film was shot with a ‘soft focus’ look that any short comings that may arise should not be blamed on this intended visual look. With that being said the black levels are the one area that leaves the most room for improvement. Colors look robust and have that appropriate 1980’s vibe to them and flesh tones look accurate. There are no issues with compression and DNR has been kept in check.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD Stereo mix in English and also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. Dialog comes through clearly, channel separation is very good and everything sounds balanced. The score for the film shines the most during this audio mix as it sounds appropriately robust throughout.
Extras for this release include a trailer for the film (1 minute 55 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), four interviews, the 1st interview with director Boaz Davidson (36 minutes 6 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), the 2nd interview with actor Lawrence Monoson (26 minutes 7 seconds – anamorphic widescreen), the 3rd interview with actress Diane Franklin (20 minutes 59 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and 4ht interview with cinematographer Adam Greenberg (21 minutes 10 seconds – anamorphic widescreen).
Topics discussed in the Boaz Davidson interview include how important The Last American Virgin was to his career, his origins as a filmmaker, Lemon Popsicle and its subsequent success, the differences between Lemon Popsicle and The Last American Virgin, casting, the difficulty of filming sexually themed scenes, the film’s ending, the film’s soundtrack and plans of new remake of The Last American Virgin. Topics discussed in the Lawrence Monoson interview include how The Last American Virgin was his first role and how it impacted his subsequent career, working with Boaz Davidson, the Lemon Popsicle film series from which The Last American Virgin was adapted from, the most difficult moments to film and his favorite moments and his thoughts on key moments in the film.
Topics discussed in the Diane Franklin interview inlcude casting, the challenge of portraying Karen, casting, difficult scenes to film and most fun scenes to film, how the film dealt with the subject of abortion. Topics discussed in the Adam Greenberg interview include how he first became involved with Boaz Davidson and their subsequent collaborations, filming techniques he used on The Last American Virgin and working with a non union crew.
Rounding out the extras is a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork and a collectable booklet with new writing on the film by author and publisher Robin Bougie and an interview with The Last American Virgin super fan Eli Roth conducted by Calum Waddell, illustrated with original archive stills and posters. Overall Arrow Video gives The Last American Virgin its best home video release to date, highly recommended.