One of the best of the best of the 1980s teen sex comedies, The Last American Virgin, comes to Blu-Ray loaded with special features thanks to MVD Entertainment.
High School … None of it means anything. All of it means everything.
Many have felt that heartache, that yearning, that devastation. The reviewer can still remember – hilariously so to him – the heartbreak that felt akin to the end of Blue Valentine. Unable to process anything because the “love of my life” fucked my best friend – who just thought she was another “notch in the belt”. Those feelings, that melodrama, is the narrative makeup of Boaz Davidson’s English language remake of his own film Hebrew language film, Lemon Popciles – The Last American Virgin.
Similarly, to Fast Times at Ridgemont High the film takes the plights and lives of its teenage characters with the kind of respect that adult-aged drama is given. Though The Last American Virgin is a far goofier film than Fast Times. The trouble that Gary (Lawrence Monoson), Rick (Steve Antin), and David (Joe Rubbo) get into is far more Leisure Suit Larry than The Breakfast Club. Things like sex with a sex worker, getting crabs, sex with a pizza delivery client, crashing a convertible into the ocean, and passing off sweetener as cocaine to their respective “dates” all play into a film that could never be made today.
What begins as a straight-ahead love triangle between Gary and Rick over Karen (Diane Franklin) takes a darker turn, The Last American Virgin shifts from fun and games to playing for keeps. An unwanted pregnancy and how it’s dealt with is the crux of the final third of the film which ends with the kind of knowing heartbreak that even John Hughes at his height couldn’t get through the studio system. Davidson’s film never betrays itself and isn’t two different films. Both the goofy and the serious are what make this film more akin to a high schooler’s life than we’d like to admit.
The Last American Virgin is aided greatly by two things in equal measure: its soundtrack and its performances. The soundtrack is a who’s who of the very best pop bands and songs of the 1980s. The Police, U2, Devo, Oingo Boingo, and the Cars all have some of their biggest hits played throughout the film. Though some of the needle drops are strange or on the noose, the fact that these songs – most eventually would be #1 singles – add a layer of verisimilitude to the proceedings.
Not to be outdone though the cast is a delightful ensemble that shows up and continually does exceptional work. The “love” triangle of Monoson, Franklin, and Antin play to their archetypes so delightfully well-observed and without judgment or wink-and-nudge that permeates this sub-genre with people afraid of nakedly bare emotions of teenagers. Franklin is obviously the winner as she’s given more shadings than your average “object of desire”. Monoson is great because there isn’t a “cool filter” on his performance, just naked contempt and yearning – as a teenager would be, with a huge dollop of insufferably. Antin begins the asshole good-looking sociopath typecasting that would bring him legendary status with Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 aka ‘GARBAGE DAY!!!’, here he’s appropriately terrible.
The Last American Virgin is truly one of the great high school comedies of the 1980s. It should be held in the same regard as the aforementioned Fast Times, Breakfast Club, and any of John Hughes’s oeuvre. Its origins and the quality of the progenitor’s other output should never play into its reputation as it has over the last four decades. Hopefully, with this home video iteration of The Last American Virgin, more will become fans of this truly special film.
Though… why, oh, why Gary did you bring organs to the hospital???
The transfer provided to MVD Entertainment is a wonderful representation of Adam Greenberg’s neon-soaked hazy ‘80s cinematography. Like most of Cannon’s output during its most productive period, The Last American Virgin was shot very quickly and cheaply. This is mentioned because, in its Blu-Ray iteration, the film has never looked better in any home video format. The handsome image has nary a scratch or blemish present. The color reproduction and contrast levels are nicely balanced giving the Blu-Ray a feel of a freshly struck archival 35mm print.
They include the following;
- ‘The First American Remake’ Interview with Boaz Davidson
- ‘Memories of a Pizza Boy’ Interview with Lawrence Monoson
- ‘Babe of the Eighties’ Interview with Diane Franklin
- ‘In Praise of Smaller Movies’ Interview with cinematographer Adam Greenberg
- Photo Gallery
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
‘The First American Remake’ Interview with Boaz Davidson (36:06) – in this all-new interview with director Davidson begins with the film was the most important film of his career. Some of the discussion points include his early life in Tela Viv watching films, the beginning of his career in Israel – being one of the first successful directors at the time, making Lemon Popsicle – which is the project that The Last American Virgin based off, the success of Lemon Popsicle, the autobiographical nature of the film, the pushing the boundaries with the sex and nudity of Lemon Popsicle, Lemon Popsicle being invited to the Berlin Film Festival, the reason why Lemon Popsicle was never released theatrically in the US, how the remake came about and developed – and changes that were made culturally – that became The Last American Virgin, the rise of AIDS shortly after the film released and how that changed attitudes, the casting of the film and how that was very different than Israel, some of the soon to be famous actors that audition for the roles, the casting of the film, the approach to directing the film – specifically the sex scenes, troubles with the MPAA, the approach to the abortion they took, the original ending and how Golan and Globus wanted him to keep it, a great anecdote about the ending and his own life, and much more. In lieu of a commentary track this is the next best thing, Davidson gives an insightful interview about the making of and the overall response to the film.
‘Memories of a Pizza Boy’ Interview with Lawrence Monoson (26:07) – in this all-new interview with actor Monoson who played Gary begins with the fact it was his first big role. Some of the discussion points include the lasting effect of the film, work as a child actor and moving from New York to Los Angeles, the casting process – and how he went in for a different role, once casted the hoops he had to go through to get the role, the toughness of the production, the intention of the sequels – which leads to a conversation about the original trilogy of films, anecdotes from the production including some crazy stories like the “measurement” scene, his relationship with Steven Antin, the sex worker scene, the similarities between the film and Fast Times with the abortion plot point, a discussion of post-AIDS world and the film within it, the sequels and why they never happened and possible sequel, and much more.
‘Babe of the Eighties’ Interview with Diane Franklin (20:59) – in this all-new interview with actor Franklin discussing her book that discusses her experinces with not only The Last American Virgin but her other famous roles (like Bill and Ted Excellent Adventure, Better Off Dead). Some of the discussion points include how she was cast in the role, her concerns about the tone of the piece and how they were going to pull it off, working with director Boaz Davidson through the production – including the abortion scene, her friendship with Kimmy Robertson, her thoughts on Monoson and Antin, the filming of the sex scene, the filming of the abortion and what was said about that scene, and much more.
‘In Praise of Smaller Movies’ Interview with cinematographer Adam Greenberg (21:11) – in this all-new interview with cinematographer Green begins with his want to go back to smaller films but how he could not – though remembering fondly how he operated the camera on The Last American Virgin. Some of the discussion points include his collaboration between Davidson and Greenberg back in Israel – including Lemon Popsicle, the massive success of Lemon Popsicle – including a hilarious story about Sam Fuller, the sequels in Israel but also the additional 8 sequels they did in Germany, Greenberg’s transition from Israel to Hollywood – and a larger discussion about not to work with Cannon, his approach to the shooting of The Last American Virgin, a great tidbit about a particular super star who came in to audition, shooting the entire film handheld – and why he shot this way and a great anecdote about shooting The Terminator shooting this in that matter, shooting non-Union at the time, discussing the difficulty getting into the union, and much more.
Photo Gallery (3:36) – the gallery consists of 43 photos consisting of production stills, lobby cards, and poster art. The gallery plays automatically, and can be paused but unfortunately cannot be navigated through.
Original Theatrical Trailer (1:55)
TV Spot (0:28)
The Final Thought
The Last American Virgin is a true blue classic and MVD Entertainment has treated it as such with its Special Edition. Highest Recommendations!!!