In this day and age, teen sex comedies are the white-hot, third rail of cinema. Back in their heyday in the Reagan years of the 1980s, the “classics” of the genre were a case study in rather repugnant men-children doing their damndest to get laid while heavily trafficking in racial stereotypes, misogyny, and grade school humor that, by contemporary morarys, are — to quote a term of that era — just grody to the max (e.g. Porkies, Losin’ It, Last American Virgin). Of late, only the deftest of filmmakers have been able to thread the comedic needle of this genre (Superbad, Juno.) In Omri Dorani and Zach Fox’s new flick How to Get Girls, the directors try their hand at walking this slippery tightrope. Yet, despite a handful established stars in the cast, the addition of comic-con as a contemporary plot device, and a few clever jokes scattered throughout the picture, the whole affair is an unwelcome and icky flashback to filmic time best tossed into the dustbin of movie history like a pair of old acid washed jeans.
“…obsessed with getting their comic into the hands of Stan Lee and jerking off in tandem to scantily clad anime girls.”
The plot centers around Zach (writer/director Zach Fox) and his childhood friend Ben (Martin Cervantez) who, as randy/dorky early teenagers, are obsessed with (1) getting their homemade comic into the hands of Marvel legend Stan Lee at their local Comicon and (2) jerking off in tandem to scantily clad anime girls. (Gross, just gross). With little warning, Ben’s gruff military dad is relocated to Antarctica, leaving Zach alone to deal with both his dysfunctional family (featuring the perennial box-office-poison that is Chris Kattan as his dad and Danna Friedberg as his funny/manipulative sister Marissa) and the horrors of high school. For Zach, high school is a trial of daily humiliations, the most vexing of which is apparently that he remains a virgin while every other guy is “getting some.” His only friend, it seems, is his overweight Irish classmate — effectively playing a red-headed version of Pretty in Pink’s Long Duck Dong. Zach’s shame is made all the more public when his lack of success with the ladies is posted in the stall of fame, a scoreboard of sorts in the boys bathroom where each of the male student’s conquests (or lack thereof) are tallied up for all to see. For reasons I cannot fathom, talented comedic actors David Koechner (Anchorman, The Legend of Ron Burgundy) and Chris Elliott (Cabin Boy) turn in appearances as — respectively — a developmentally arrested principal who parties with his students and a tortured English/theater teacher. But I digress.