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MOVIE REVIEW : 'Virgin': A Basement-Budget Sex Comedy

December 08, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

Those who go to a movie with a title like "The Virgin Queen of St. Francis High" (selected theaters) deserves what they get: in this case, a stupefyingly banal basement-budget sex comedy, in which an obnoxious premise is done so ineptly it's hard to get offended by it.

Why get mad at people who stage long James Bond pastiche dream sequences--without a scrap of humor--in what looks like an empty high school after prom night? Or who try to suggest a grizzly bear attack by shaking a table and then waving what appears to be a bearskin rug outside a trysting couple's motel window?

The writer-director is Francesco Lucente and his concept of a modern American teen-ager has as much verisimilitude as Munchkins to simulating a tribe of Watusis. In Lucente's film, hero Joseph Straface bets villain Lee Barringer--an alleged California teen with a heavy British accent--that he can talk their school's most desirable virgin (Stacy Christensen), into defloration at a nearby, infamous passion-pit motel. Amazingly--since Straface's character is a sullen, deadpan, self-centered klutz who can barely speak intelligibly--the virgin agrees, if they sleep in separate bedrooms.

Who on earth would consent to such a weekend? And how do the villains learn of it? From the bear? Lucente ends this howling fiasco with a "chickie" run--which suggests that his knowledge of tribal teen-age rites comes from the cinematheque.

The film's attempts at thrills, drama and sentiment are laughable--but not, unfortunately, its attempts at humor. Early on, Straface nervously presents himself at the door to his dream girl's mother. When asked why he is holding a bouquet in front of his face, he quickly explains that he suffers from the same deformity as John Merrick, the Elephant Man--a grotesque subterfuge which the mother somehow swallows, and which, to our utter bewilderment, is then carried on through an entire meal. While eating, the young suitor conceals himself with a helmet. (It doesn't improve his diction.)

Anyone capable of jokes like that, is capable of anything. Virgins and non-virgins alike should beware this PG "Virgin Queen."

'THE VIRGIN QUEEN OF ST. FRANCIS HIGH' A Crown International Pictures release of a Pioneer Pictures/American Artists (Canada) Corp. production. Executive producer Lawrence G. Ryckman. Director Francesco Lucente. Script Lucente. Camera Joseph Bitonti, Kevin Alexander. Music producer Danny Lowe. With Joseph R. Straface, Stacy Christensen, J. T. Wotton, Anna Lisa, Lee Barringer.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

MPAA rating: PG (parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children).

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