Movie Review: Hooka Face And The Virgin Boy
The “nerdy guy losing his virginity” plot has been around a long time in movies. Typically, the nerd is just a generally hapless character. He’s the kind of guy that, even though in his attempt to cure his “problem” he may do things that make him seem like a jerk, we know deep down that he’s a good guy who deserves to achieve his goal, e.g. Steve Carrell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Then, on the other hand, there’s Robert Putka’s short film Hooka Face and the Virgin Boy, in which the director casts himself as a loathsome, horny teenager whom you wish never makes the big score — even when he’s paying for it. This is a comedy that doesn’t rely on jokes about near-miss exploits. Instead, the humor comes out of how repulsive Robert can act. A lot of humor.
Ok, that’s a little harsh. There are actually a few brief moments when his naivete is endearing, like when he’s befuddled by his escort’s question of “Where do you want me?” and when he’s fumbling around with removing his tie. And, yes, he’s so inexperienced that he wears a tie to meet an escort (Gina Angel) in a hotel room to lose his virginity.
But, any good will we may feel for Robert is completely undercut from the film’s opening video blog entry, in which he makes a grating plea to any girls who want to get on his “d.” And, yes, he actually uses the euphemism “d” as a desperate attempt to sound cool. With that, according to his own feelings, he’s forced to resort to a prostitute.
Also early in the film, a title card indicates that what we’re about to watch is based on a true story. Whether we can take that at face value or it’s a Fargo type of come-on doesn’t matter. It ends up making the film seem more true and more uncomfortable to watch.
Is Robert playing a character “Robert,” playing up his repulsive side in the name of comedy? Or is he presenting his true self, thinking his obnoxious behavior is somehow endearing? Does he really make himself look bad? Or is that just me bringing my own preconceptions of how men should act with women, even with a paid-for escort?
One of the reasons Robert comes off so bad is just how sweet Angel is as the escort. Of course, that’s an escort’s job. However, she goes above and beyond the call of duty … except when she giggles when Robert finally tries to get busy and ruins “the mood.”
But, a typical exchange for them is like when Angel asks if this is Robert’s first time. “Are you on crack?” Robert replies. “How did you figure that one out?” Rather than punch Robert in the nose for being a sarcastic jerk, she actually lists the reasons in as polite as way as possible. Angel never loses her cool, as an escort and as an actress. She’s the dream girl for Robert in this situation and he’s too clueless to recognize it, which is probably the reason why I personally got so irritated with him.
Hooka Face and the Virgin Boy is only about 10 minutes long and is basically just one scene. But, Putka packs in as much uncomfortable tension and humor for a film three to four times its size, all the while finding a unique, new spin on a familiar genre. This is the “virginity losing” comedy plot boiled down to its pure essence.
Watch a deleted scene from the film: