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With: Mena Suvari, Robert Loggia, Bob Hoskins, Sally Kellerman, Lamont Johnson, Gabriel Mann
Written by: Jean-Pierre Marois, Ira Israel
Directed by: Jean-Pierre Marois
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, nudity and language.
Running Time: 88
Date: 07/29/1999

American Virgin (2000)

0 Stars

Dead On Arrival

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

How do I put this? How many ways are there to say it? I guess the best way is to just say it straight. In this, the year 2000, the worst movie year in recent memory, I have just seen the worst movie of the year. Its name is Live Virgin.

Live Virgin is one of those movies that no doubt got financing because of its one-sentence TV Guide pitch-line: a virgin volunteers to have sex on live TV on her 18th birthday. The reason the movie gained distribution is that Mena Suvari, who played Kevin Spacey's fantasy girl in American Beauty (1999), plays the girl. It was retitled American Virgin for its video release (coming out in September), obviously to cash in on the success of that big Oscar-winner. Bob Hoskins plays a porn king who puts on the "Live Virgin" show, complete with electronic pleasure suits so that people watching can feel the sex. Robert Loggia plays another porn director and Mena's father, none too happy about the arrangement.

I suppose Live Virgin thinks it's a parody of all those inane "real life" TV shows like "Big Brother" and "Survivor" (which I hate even more than Live Virgin, thanks very much), but it spends most of its time being a slapstick chase movie that's not in the least funny. It begins on a Jerry Springer-type talk show, hosted by Sally Kellerman, that pretends to examine the live sex show phenomenon. This is the closest the movie gets to actual satire, but it degenerates quickly into a very poorly-shot and edited screaming match and brawl that goes on way too long. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) had a better parody of Springer, with Springer as himself!

Even if, as one nameless reviewer suggests, the movie does work as a parody, then it still throws up the white flag at the end. It gives up and doesn't go through with its idea. The entire movie is both brainless and gutless. It doesn't even have the nerve to show porn actors with their clothes off! At least four supposed porn scenes are shown with the actors wearing bathing suits!

The director is named Jean-Pierre Marois. I've never heard of him and the press notes have no information on him, but I hope I never see his name again. The movie is completely inept. It's dark, abrasive, and annoying. Loggia spends the entire movie at a fever-pitch screaming at everyone and everything for 87 minutes. Hoskins manages to be even more annoying, though I can't really explain how. The camerawork is atrocious. It goes all over the place, setting up shots that have nothing to do with the scene, and then sometimes even forgetting to photograph the scene! Sometimes the camera is way off on the side, with our view blocked by something! The cutting, if you can imagine, is even worse. Scenes just shoot back and forth on half-beats and quarter-beats with no rhythm or pacing at all. The whole thing is like driving a Yugo at 120 miles per hour with the suspension screaming and rattling and threatening to blow up.

I'm going to do something I haven't done yet. I'm giving this movie No Cormans. To give it even one would be a disservice. There is not a laugh, a snigger, or even a grin in this movie. My mouth did not change expression once. There is not a single idea that is carried out. There is not a single truthful emotion. Live Virgin is utterly worthless.

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