No comedy can succeed if it expends most of its best gags in the first sequence. Especially when the running joke and primary objective is for a teen Lothario to deflower the female he has been denied. While VIRGIN HIGH's "get thee to a nunnery" premise is promising, its execution is
talky, awkward and banal.
Parked in the hills above L.A., Jerry Selow (Richard Gabai) has only one thing in mind for girlfriend Christy Murphy (Tracy Dali). He is impatient for the main event on this, their third date, and is cagily indifferent to her refusal. No really means yes. No? Due to Jerry's "broken watch,"
Christy has violated her nighttime curfew by several hours. Startled by her vigilant, angry parents, her loosened blouse pops open. Dick Murphy (Burt Ward), Christy's uptight, incestuous, control-freak father, can only scream: "That's it, young lady! You're going to Catholic school!"
Before she knows it, Christy has been enrolled at the Academy of the Blessed Virgin. Sister Felicia (Catherine McGuiness) reads Christy the rules: no records, no radios, no TV, no loud talking, no slouching, no immodest hairdos, etc. Christy meets Kathleen (Linnea Quigley), the Sisters'
capo-designate. The new arrival must desist from illicit behavior. But, as we shall see, Kathleen herself is far from a vestal virgin. Classes are no miracle of scholarship or religious tolerance. A lesson on the Council of Trent turns to Martin Luther, the "twerp that started the Protestant
Revolution." This segues to a rote ten-second sex-education sound bite, from sperm to baby: "Tomorrow's Class: Staying Off the Slippery Slope to Hell." (The film's largely unhoned joke is that this already is Hell.) By contrast, Jerry's high-school male sex-ed class is taught by a half-clad,
high-heeled nurse, Ms. Bush. Her lesson: "The Sex Organs: 101 Ways in Which They Are Aroused." Jerry pines for Christy; pals Theo and Zoomer want to cruise for "babes." Jerry's first attempt at evading Derek, the lunky, Elvis-impersonating security guard (Chris Dempsey) at Virgin High, is a bust.
Undaunted, he returns next day as "Father Gus" and bops right in. Sister Felicia takes this slick oddball for a soul man from the Archdiocese. What with a Sister out ill, theology class needs a teacher. Surely, the Father is qualified. Does he have any choice? His ad lib arcs from a chalk
squiggle, to Zoroastrianism, to sex. Christy cringes.
The Sisters think Jerry/Father Gus has been sent by the Bishop to spy. After theology class and a row with Christy, Father Gus is urged to hear confessions, what he terms "a spiritual enema." One girl is a homebody; Kathleen is a steamy nympho (secretly getting it on with Derek to curry
privileges). Meanwhile, the affluent Mr. Murphy has pledged a large donation from his Guilt Gouger Foundation to the strapped Academy if they keep up the good work. Translation: if they transform his daughter Christy from sinner to saint, they get $350,000. By such tithes are poor souls saved from
Jerry can't maintain his Father Gus cover. He flees after he learns Christy's room number. Next night, Christy and two new friends play Monopoly, fanatasizing aloud that three Greek gods would fly in through the window to sweep them up. So be it: Jerry and pals crawl over the sill, but hide when
a nun comes by to relate plans for a fundraising car-wash. It is unknown how or by whose permission the chaste lasses became bikini babes, but they devoutly soap the bumpers and each other.
Then comes the year-end formal. Posing as a geek photographer, Jerry sneaks in to sabotage Kathleen's plans to humiliate Christy. Derek spikes the punch, which loosens up the Murphys, the Bishop and several nuns. Christy reviles Leonard Klapner, the crude Casanova her parents have foisted upon
her. Kathleen unveils what was to have incriminated Christy, but thanks to Jerry's espionage skills, Kathleen is instead the fool: a photo shows her and Derek in flagrante delicto. Mom and Dad are exposed for what they are: a dominatrix and her submissive cowboy. Dad must deliver the $350,000 or
his reputation is mud.
Directed by Gabai from a screenplay by Jeff Neill and Gabai, VIRGIN HIGH is a typically scattershot satire targeting sex, the Establishment and "teen" hormones. The production values are strictly low-budget. The humor alternates between chuckles and caricature, with no surplus of in-jokes or
repartee. Though harmless, on balance it is nearly pointless and rather dull. (Sexual situations, nudity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: No comedy can succeed if it expends most of its best gags in the first sequence. Especially when the running joke and primary objective is for a teen Lothario to deflower the female he has been denied. While VIRGIN HIGH's "get thee to a nunnery" premise is… (more)