It’s said that you’ll never forget the first time. Despite your best efforts, Hollywood will always be there to remind you of the event. This week’s new R-rated comedy, “The To Do List,” starring Aubrey Plaza, opens on Friday, and it’s easy to understand why The First Time has become such a popular destination for R-rated comedy fans. Even the more comic end of the range is loaded with possibilities for misunderstandings, social shame, and awkwardness, so it’s really a screenwriter’s dream—an (almost) universally relatable life-stage conundrum.
As a matter of fact, it’s telling that so many American films dealing with the subject are viewed through the lens of a “smutty” comedy. However, it does seem strange that you can see someone’s viscera erupt in 3-D as soon as your age reaches double figures, but a naked breast or, God forbid, a penis…? Hollywood’s double standard when it comes to sex and violence is well-documented. This is not to say that these films, which frequently have a lot of talking, planning, but not a great deal of skin bared like their protagonists—like their protagonists, they get to tread the line between innocence and experience. For the record, “raunchy” is one of the most conservative words in the English language. Contrarily, sex comedies are more likely than other genres to reflect the morals and mores of the time in which they were produced, which is why films like Cherry-Poppin’ from two decades ago might seem hopelessly out of date. As a matter of fact, it may even be part of their allure!
A sampling of the many times Hollywood has resigned its Big-V club membership, landed its first Martian probe on Venus, attended the Bush Inaugural Ball or whatever other terrible euphemism you prefer, for the glorious rite of passage/horrible fumbling catastrophe that is having sexual intercourse for the first time.
1. Porky’s (1982)
Often referred to as the “Citizen Kane” of juvenile sex comedies, this is the film that launched a slew of imitators while also serving as a touchstone for the sleazy subgenre. The story revolves around a gang of Florida teenagers who are on a mission to become prostitutes in order to lose their virginity. As a result of the club’s redneck owners humiliating the youngsters before ejecting them, the teenagers decide to exact their vengeance on Porky and his brother (who happens to be the sheriff). As a result, the story’s fundamental concept of young men and women attempting to find sex often feels forced and artificial.
Even yet, there are enough sexual escapades for it to be a “stone cold classic” on our list. In fact, even of the film’s funniest sequences, like the famous one in which the boys spy on their female classmates through a hole they’ve uncovered in the girl’s locker room, can still feel a little alarming due to their graphic nature. For those who haven’t been living in a cave for the past 30 years, they might catch a glimpse of a dozen or so young ladies who are entirely naked before they are discovered. As far as sex comedies go, “Porky’s” is unrivaled. Even better: it’s a joy to watch.
2. The Sessions (2012)
“The Sessions” is a breath of fresh air in a rather stale genre because the virgin dying to lose “it” is a middle-aged guy (the effervescent John Hawkes) confined to an iron lung. Using a sex surrogate, Helen Hunt plays the role of a sex escort in order to fulfill his dying wish of becoming a man for the first time. An iron lung-clad man and a surrogate, who attempts to be all business but has feelings, are the emotional focus of the film, as well as the channel via which such virginity loss characteristics as premature ejaculation and full frontal nudity are trotted out in the movie. There is a striking balance of pathos and sarcasm in this film, and the plot never veers too far in any direction. That it has two of the greatest performances ever to grace a comedy about a first date is a huge benefit.
3. American Pie (1999)
An unexpected film series was born in 1999 with the release of “American Pie,” an over-the-top love letter to the sex comedy of the 1980s that has spawned a sub-franchise of apparently interminable DTV sequels (this time with 100 percent more Internet stripteases).
In terms of premise, it doesn’t get more classic than this: four buddies agree to lose their virginity before they graduate high school, no matter what it takes. However, this is a movie that gets its name from a famous scene in which Jason Biggs makes sweet love to a newly baked cake, so don’t expect it to be as outrageous or explicit as its premise suggests. In “American Pie,” there’s a tenderness that separates it from some of the more soulless sex comedies of the past few decades, with people that you truly care about succeeding (scoring). “American Reunion,” which included less sex than an average episode of “The Vampire Diaries,” was unexpectedly restrained in comparison to the rest of the series.
4. The Rules of Attraction (2002)
“The Rules of Attraction” director Roger Avary stated that he intended to make a film that better reflected the ordinary college experience. Films such as “American Pie” and “The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants” are known for their innocent humor, while “The Rules of Attraction” aims to expose the toxic reality of American adolescence. After eight years, Avary’s first post-“Pulp Fiction” directorial position proved to be a risky one, but the nihilistic characters in Bret Easton-Ellis’ masterpiece were more than up to the challenge. Shannyn Sossamon’s Lauren Hynde experiences one of the most horrifying initial impressions in the film. While fantasizing for weeks about meeting James Van Der Beek’s Sean Bateman, a stoner who turns out to be a drug dealer, or Victor, her absent lover and another grade-A bastard, she decides to just take the plunge and meet the men she’s been fantasizing about. As the night progresses, she becomes more and more intoxicated. She and a student filmmaker who had struck up a conversation at a party end up going to a bedroom to “smoke a joint.” When she wakes up, she discovers that someone is having sex with her and that her virginity has been snatched away. She realizes that the person shooting everything is some intoxicated “townie” she’s never met, and not even the film student. As if things couldn’t get any worse for her, the townie hurls vomit on her. Those three minutes are a horrific, damning look into the degeneracy and mental instability of today’s youngsters in the United States. Maybe some of the “Dawson’s Creek” lovers who watched this mislabeled film had the same sentiments as I did.
5. The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
“The 40 Year-Old Virgin” was a comedic goldmine, cementing Judd Apatow’s frat pack dominance and elevating Steve Carell to leading funnyman status. At an electronics store, Andy Stitzer (Carell) is a middle-aged sales employee who has never had sex (as you could guess from the title). He hasn’t made a conscious decision to be this way; he’s merely caught in a state of developmental stagnation. Women have my utmost respect! Women are some of my favorite things. They have my utmost respect, and as a result, I avoid them at all costs!” “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” on the other hand, is a comedy that “touches you, as you’ve never been touched before,” thanks to the co-writing efforts of Apatow and Carell, as well as some golden supporting cast improvisation.” We root for Andy because we care about him and want him to have a regular grownup relationship with Trish (Catherine Keener), the spacey young grandmother who is his perfect other half. We’re not grossed out or mindlessly supporting him.
“The Age of Aquarius” is the song of choice for many people when they finally realize what all the commotion is about after all these years.