Metro Weekly

Freshman Orientation

Reel Affirmations 2005

Review by Sean Bugg

Rating: starstarstar (3 out of 5)

Friday, 10/21/2005, 9:15 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre

”MEN WILL SAY anything to get off!” says a teenage girl as she fends off some drunkenly amorous advances in at the start of Freshman Orientation. And it’s a good thing they do, otherwise there would be no such thing as the teen sex comedy.

Yes, it’s a long and honored genre stretching all the way back to the halcyon days of Animal House, through such 80’s classics at Hot Dog…The Movie and Hardbodies, and up to such current gems as Eurotrip. Along the way, the milieu has also touched upon the hot-button topics of social justice, most notably with the long-running Revenge of the Nerds series.

Now the teen sex comedy sets its social progressive gaze on gays with Freshman Orientation, in which the young Midwestern college freshman Sam decides the easiest way to straight sex with the girl of his dreams is to play gay. Unbeknownst to him, the beautiful Amanda (whose last name, unfortunately, is not ”Huggenkiss”) is under orders from her sorority. Her fellow freshmen sisters must each lure a freak — a ”cripple,” a ”Muslim,” a ”nerd” — to fall in love with them, only to publicly dump said freak at a big sorority party.

So gay-for-a-lay Sam and Amanda are both targeting each other for duplicitous reasons, but eventually the power of gay shines through and…well, I don’t want to give the whole thing away. But the teen sex comedy is kabuki-like in its forms, and Freshman Orientation doesn’t stray far, aside from some welcome, if predictable, jabs at the campus p.c. mentality.

Standouts include John Goodman as big gay bartender, Rodney, who schools Clay in the ways of gay, and Mike Erwin, who plays Clay’s roommate who discovers his own sexuality, and who is every bit as cute as his multiple appearances in WB network shows would indicate. But Heather Matarazzo, all grown up from Welcome to the Dollhouse, grates as Amanda’s overly-stereotypical Jewish sorority sister (although the sight of her in a hajib trying to pick up Muslims at a mosque is more mirthful than you’d expect).

Will Freshman Orientation have impact beyond its obviously intended audience? Only time will tell. It does, however, prove that using homosexuality as a plot device to get a straight guy laid can lead to harmless, if forgettable, momentary fun.

Freshman Orientation
Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.