Staff Picks – Patrick Pryor’s Ain’t Love Grand: The Agony and the Ecstasy of THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN
Yesterday, Marcie kicked off our week of Love vs. Anti-Love blog posts with one of her favorite Romantic Comedies, BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY. Today, Patrick Pryor, AFF’s Young Filmmaker’s Program Director, is throwing his hat in the ring for the Anti-Love side with his take on THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN.
THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN is the only sex comedy that makes me want to swear off romance forever and become a monk. We’ve all been there before, falling hard for someone that barely gives us the time of day, has eyes for someone else, or merely likes us as a friend. That’s the strange thing about romantic feelings. For better or worse, they make you do some silly, sappy, and flat-out regrettable things. You climb out on a limb to squawk and preen and pitch some woo only to land flat on your face and wonder why you became so infatuated in the first place.
Take Gary, for example, the delivery boy hero of THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN. He spends most of the film slinging pizzas and pining for his classmate, Karen, only to lose her to his horn dog best friend. Though zany fast motion chasing and bedroom hijinks pepper the film, several scenes cut close to the romantic bone. Gary gets drunk at a party to work up the courage to talk to Karen, embarrassing himself and his friends in the process. Too hung up on Karen, Gary ignores the obvious advances of her new-waver best friend, Rose. Gary even scrapes and scrounges to save up for a birthday present for Karen that, due to the turbulent nature of love, remains undelivered.
That’s the brilliance of THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN. It allows us to laugh (and maybe cry a little) at the pains, thrills, and misty-eyed longing that go hand-in-hand with that hot mess of a monster called love. Instead of getting the girl and triumphing over his romantic rival, Gary spends the last moments of the film sobbing in his car, soothed only by the velvet voice of James Ingram. “I tried my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.” Indeed, Mr. Ingram, indeed.
In the world of THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN, much like our less than thrilling reality, people often don’t get they want. There’s no Hollywood ending where our dream girl or guy drops everything to flock to our side. Relationships sour, people make poor decisions, and affections remain unrequited Love is a powerful, but dangerous beast — a bunch of synapses firing in our brains, making our palms sweat, hearts flutter, and pupils dilate in a frenzied fever. Much like Gary, some of the best and worst (but mostly worst) decisions I’ve ever made have been under the influence of passion. I’ve chugged whiskey and littered my bed with P. Terry’s double cheeseburger wrappers after a turbulent breakup. I’ve moved in with a cray beloved. I even bribed a friend to dress up like a ninja-cat and croon to a misguided high school crush. But no matter the depths of my romantic folly, THE LAST AMERICAN VIRGIN will always be there to preach to me and provide comfort like a put upon friend at the end of a bar. Thanks to a stellar soundtrack, the film becomes an almost transcendent experience for the down-and-out and broken hearted. This is blind love: the teenage experience distilled into a melancholic celluloid whir of pop music and wry ennui.
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