by Rick Grant
Compared to the umpteen coming of age movies, this teen-scene comedy fits somewhere in the middle of the group, between There’s Something About Mary and American Pie. Josh Zuckerman, a 23 year old actor who already has an impressive filmography, stars as Ian Lafferty, a shy laid-back senior in high school.
Ian is embarrassed to be a virgin but he doesn’t let it interfere with his school work or his social skills. Still, sex occupies much of his brain as he tries to make the transition from being best friend with Felicia (Amanda Crew) into something more. But it seems narrowing the gap is like climbing Mt. Everest.
When Ian meets a hottie chick on the Internet, he’s too naive to realize its probably a scam. But, he gets his friend Lance (Clarke Duke) and gal-pal Felicia to go along on a road trip to Vegas to meet is honey. The journey is a metaphor for Ian’s sexual maturity and he and his friends learn a lot from the adventure.
Ian’s older brother is a bully and treats him with contempt. However, Ian wants to borrow his brother’s gleaming Pontiac GTO for the trip. The brother forbids it and retrieves his hidden key, but Ian has a key after all. So, the road trip is on, and the viewer can guess that the brother’s pride and joy muscle car will get trashed somewhere down the road.
Unlike Ian, Lance is suave and is gifted with charm and magnetic attraction. So, he serves as an inspiration for Ian’s anticipation of his first sexual encounter with the number 10 on the Internet. As the trio drives through Pennsylvania Dutch country their car breaks down and they’re stranded in the middle of nowhere. They are rescued by an Amish man, Ezekiel (Seth Green) in his horse and buggy. He takes the trio and tows their car back to his farm, where he just so happens to have an auto garage to fix their car.
At the Amish farm, they are having a wild party that serves as their coming of age. Anything goes during this traditional celebration. Lance meets a girl who falls for him right away. So the trio lives it up and has the time of their lives. Ian is still a virgin but he is getting closer to Felicia as the trip unfolds.
Of course, this scenario, written and directed by Sean Anders with writer John Morris, seems by now to be a rehash of all the coming of age films that have gone before. There are the masturbation jokes, trying to get laid situations, and all the other adolescent fodder that make up this concept. Still, the actors are fresh faces that, by their respectively deft performances, greatly enhance the final cut.
For older moviegoers, it’s sometimes fun to relive that era of one’s youth, blindly plunging into adulthood with such vigor and wonder. Since one’s entire life is an exercise in learning, the characters in this story’s first baby steps take viewers back in time. Interestingly, no matter what time frame it is, an adolescent faces the same challenges.
And then there is the big one-sex-that drives the brains of youth. The only difference is: In today’s world sex is more of an easy option for young people, yet it still packs the same serious emotional aftermath as it did when sex was not so available to teenagers. Yes, teens still end up pregnant, despite the fact that the birth control pill has been around since the late 1960s.
For young screenwriters, this genre has been done to death, leaving few original options left. Anders and Morris were challenged with coming up with a fresh approach. For the most part, their screenplay was funny and sometimes original, which makes it worth viewing whether you are a teenager or a mature adult. Nostalgia strikes deep!
by Rick Grant