Do me a favor. Go out and see this movie and tell me what you think.
I loved it. It's not an entirely new premise, but it does have a new face and a new perspective. Brandy Clark (Aubrey Plaza) is a serious-faced, Clinton-worshipping, valedictorian. And a virgin. Until now, largely unaffected by teenage hormonal impulses to make out, until she sees Rusty Waters (Scott Porter) at a party. He makes her feel something she's never felt before... What is this? A summer of discovering sex, sexual acts, her body, sexual impulses, and shenanigans.
See? Not groundbreaking except that it's about a somewhat neurotically academic young woman checking off sexual acts, her two slightly more experienced and much more foul mouthed best friends (Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele), a hot guy, her normal looking but very sensitive guy friend who is in love with her, and a handful of other memorable characters (hellooo, I mean Bill Hader and Andy Samberg and Nolan Gould and Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Donald Glover? Not to mention Connie Britton and Clark Gregg??)
As I was watching this movie, I kept waiting for it to be bad. To slip into formula, or cop out by going to raunchy land for raunchy land's sake... It didn't happen. By the end of the movie, I was even satisfied by the way they painted the young men in the movie, even if it wasn't an in-depth character exploration. There were characters, certainly, but hardly caricatures.
I actually almost laugh-cried (OK I teared up a little) when, after all the hullabaloo and a friendship fall out, Aubrey's character comes into her best friend's room tears in her eyes, singing a song. 1) Because that's fucking ridiculous. 2) Because people (girls?) do that. We are silly with each other. We don't know how to apologize. And then we laugh at ourselves and say politically incorrect stuff.
As the credits rolled, I sat there with my friend marveling at how much I enjoyed the movie. And my first theory was that it was hard to watch (or relate to) for "most" people because it's about a girl's experience with the in-your-face "raunchiness" (this movie was not raunchy considering it was all about sex!!). (A select choice words from negative reviews are: ultra-raunchy, vile, ugliness of spirit)
Is it uncomfortable (or VILE) for you to watch a girl give a handjob in a matter-of-fact manner? Is it uncomfortable for you to watch a girl to masturbate in her quest to find her G-spot? Is it uncomfortable when a young woman takes the top position after citing a factoid that "women are 40% more likely to orgasm when they're on top"?
And if it makes you uncomfortable, why does it make you uncomfortable? Is it because you just don't like overt sexual things in movies that fly under the banner of "sexual exploration" and liken this to raunchy American Pie? Is it because you can relate to Superbad because boys will be boys and they will be obsessed with their dicks and sex in high school--but not to this? (And if that's the case, think harder about why you can only related to Superbad, whether you're a guy or a girl.)
Or is it because this movie (most of the time) is not sexy? A movie literally just about sex acts is not sexy. It's bespectacled, granny panty-wearing, freckle-faced, 90's fashioned unsexy. And is that why you don't want to watch the confusion and struggle of a girl's first blow job?
The more movies and tv shows and stories I am exposed to and the more I talk about them, the more I feel like I come off as a bra-burning-feminist. I do believe there is more content featuring whole women, as George R. R. Martin said "I've always considered women to be people." I'd be pretty horrified and disappointed if the negative criticism of this movie stemmed from people's discomfort with viewing women as non-sexy sexual beings.
Bridesmaids was a lot of physical humor which is unconventional for women, but this movie brings in sexuality and all of a sudden it's crass and tasteless. Maybe I liked it because I already like Aubrey Plaza, I liked Brandy Clark from the beginning.
But I do think this story is just well told. I think it is sincere and curious and authentic, even if they happen to do a lot of zany things in the time span of the movie. Maybe it resonated with me because it was set in the 90's. Because I've had the same talks with my girlfriends (albeit in college, I was not nearly as progressive as them in high school), the same crying sessions; I've felt the same way about a bleach-haired puka shell wearing hottie; I've felt the same confusion and excitement and disgust during a handjob. So much of this movie rang true to me, it's hard for me to understand why it was called superficial, ugly, and ultra-raunchy.
I also didn't think this movie was trying to prove that women can be gross too (that was Bridesmaids, imo). But rather, hey, here's a girl, she's gonna learn about sex. If the movie wanted to be "vile" and be "raunchy to be raunchy", they'd've covered all the other things on her list that are so dirty I had to urbandictionary them. That is American Pie, this is closer to Superbad.