Share via Email Randy, but lonely, too Do you know what your teenage son has got himself into? The answer, according to the people behind such films as new teen comedy Sex Drive , which swings into UK cinemas in January, is socks, apple pies, soft fruit and his friends' mums.
If it's inanimate or inappropriate, he's been there. Apologies for crassness, but that's exactly the kind of humour regularly employed by Hollywood scriptwriters to describe the coming of age experience. Male teens are sweaty lumps of sexual frustration who will hump anything; they're enthusiastic but useless lovers who think finesse is something you yell when it's over. We have Paul Weitz's genre classic American Pie in which unions with all the above occur to thank for this stereotype - which, shockingly, is an improvement on the previous state of affairs.
Following the progress of four high-school boys who make a pact to lose their virginity by prom night, the film gifted the sexcom genre with a whole new set of moves.
Before Pie, comedy films for the teenage market followed Russ Meyers' mantra - "big laughs and big tits" - but weren't much bothered if the latter squeezed the former out. The format was all about cramming in gross-out gags regardless of the plot, hence the shallow humour of 80s hits such as Caddyshack and Porky's.
There were no consequences, there were no lessons, just slobbering blokes chasing after vacuous women - Benny Hill goes Beverly Hills. The relative realism of American Pie pie-coupling notwithstanding changed everything. It dealt with the issues that shape teenage sexual behaviour - peer pressure, competitiveness, parental attitudes - without ridicule, and it didn't patronise its audience.
Put bluntly, it gave teenage boys a voice as well as a hard-on. Post-Pie, it appears teen comedies are taking a slightly more sophisticated view of adolescent sex and sexuality. Sex Drive, the story of one boy's road trip across America to sleep with a girl he's met on the internet, is an example of the developing maturity of the genre's film-makers. Director Sean Anders takes inspiration from the sexual insecurity implicit in Gen-X classics such as Swingers and Clerks; hence, Sex Drive's hero, Ian, isn't just a randy teenager.
He's lonely, desperate and hormonal, bullied by an older brother who boasts greater sexual prowess and outgunned by a more experienced best friend. He's also painfully insecure around girls, who tend to ignore or use him. Incidentally, it's significant that here, as in most blockbuster genres, the female characters are still always either sex objects or "one of the boys".
The genre's film-makers still have a lot more maturing to do when it comes to their views on equality. Still, it's reassuring that the film industry's love affair with the movies at the extreme end of the scale - the true trash inspired by the genre's moronic, sexist 80s - appears to be fizzling out.
It suggests that Hollywood is beginning to realise that most teenagers are driven by more than their base instincts. Concerned parents should take comfort in that. After all, hormones alone are unlikely to turn your teenager pie-fucking crazy. But hormones, plus the influence of Porky's-like idiocy, just might.