The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Sex the Way It Often Is: Film’s Most Awkward Love Scenes

Written by: Rob Van Winkle, CC2K Staff Writer

ImageI can’t even imagine how much sexual intercourse – real or suggested – the average person sees in movies or on TV over the course of their lives. But I do know that in the vast majority of cases, the sex that is witnessed is simply perfect. Both partners are in bliss, with the man possessing an unending supply of virility and stamina, and the woman blessed with perfect body awareness  (and a perfect body).  In other words, sex on screen is almost always awesome!

To put it another way: Watching the sex act in no way prepares you for the act itself.

Having gone through it once myself, I admit to an awful lot of sympathy for the young man or woman attempting sex for the first time. After hundreds of combined hours watching thousands of fictional couples having imaginary perfect sex, there is simply no way that their impending reality can match the illusion that Hollywood had created for them. We might not want to talk about it, but sex in those early days was awkward and confusing, and the end result was only moderately pleasurable for guys (and sometimes downright painful for women).  It takes practice before we all evolve into the sexual gods and goddesses that we surely all are (because after all, we spend time on a pop culture geek fansite!)

So where are the movies that depict that? Where can the coital newbie go to gain insight on what to expect – actually expect – for their first time? Turns out…it’s pretty hard to find. However, after picking through my brain and exhausting my mental backlog of films, I have unearthed three scenes from three different movies that might offer some answers. This isn’t sex the way it oughta be, it’s sex the way it often is.

Scene 1

The Movie – American Pie

The Players – Tara Reid and the guy who played the guy who was dating Tara Reid

The Set-up – Four  high school friends make a pact that they will, at all costs, lose their virginity before college. Like in every movie of its type, the plot revolves mainly around the absurd lengths these guys will go to accomplish this task. UNLIKE most movies of its type however, most of the guys achieve that goal by movie’s end (the one who falls in love abstains). Two of these scenarios are as bizarre and unlikely as you’d expect – “Say my name, bitch!” and “Oh…Stifler’s mom” – but the third scenario is played unexpectedly real. After dating for a long time yet shying away from actual intercourse, Tara Reid and her boyfriend decide that prom night is the right time. They slip away from the party, find a spare bedroom…and what follows is nothing short of uncomfortable to watch.  (It is interspersed with all the other scenes, so bear with the clip)

The Scene:

As you can see, it is shot far more tastefully than it needs to be, and all we can see is Tara Reid’s face as she deals with her discomfort, and Thomas Ian Nicholas’ face (yeah, I caved and looked it up) as he fights a losing battle to make it a positive experience. When they are finished, they realize that, far from consummating their relationship, they have in fact put the final stamp on it. They break up, and leave for college a bit older, a bit wiser, and far more jaded than they once were. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m willing to bet that for most people, their “first time” stories hew far closer to this than to just about anything else you’ll see at the movies.

(As an added bonus – not to mention a sure-fire way to increase Google search traffic by including the phrases “Tara Reid Sex Scene” and “Tara Reid Orgasm” into this article – here is a bonus video, featuring the Tara Reid Sex Scene from American Pie where she has a Tara Reid Orgasm at the hands – or rather mouth – of her completely inexperienced boyfriend. Just like in real life):


Scene 2:

The Movie – Biloxi Blues

The Players – Matthew Broderick and a hooker

The Setup – Eugene Morris Jerome (the fictional stand-in for author Neil Simon) is sent to basic training to prepare for his tour in World War II. He has set some lofty goals for his time there, one of which is to lose his virginity. At one point in the movie, Eugene and a few of his friends set into town to find a prostitute that they have heard about. They arrive…but they all chicken out at the last minute and run away. However, Eugene forgets his hat, and when he runs back in to get it, she is there, and waiting for him.  Taking a deep breath, he steels himself for the momentous act, and goes to her bed.

The Scene:

Jerome is clearly terrified, and the prostitute is borderline bored. She ultimately has to walk and talk him through the situation from start to finish. When the moment finally arrives, director Mike Nichols gives us a view of Broderick’s face as he begins the sex act…and finishes it almost immediately afterward. A friend of mine in high school – one year older than me and so leagues more experienced in the ways of the world – once described his first sexual experience as “not much more than a wiggle and a grunt.” If this describes your experience as well, then have no fear, Eugene Jerome (and Neil Simon by extension) are right there with you.

(Try as I might, this video was not available online. For some reason, obscure clips from twenty-year-old movies aren’t in vogue right now! So instead, here is a trailer that at least contains a clip of this scene, and you can see the fear and awkwardness on Broderick’s face.)

Scene 3:

The Movie – The Ice Storm

The Players – Joan Allen and the guy who plays the guy who gets to bone Joan Allen

The Set-up – A handful of bored married couples congregate at a party during a terrible (and titular) ice storm. To spice things up, it becomes a “key party,” where the men put their car keys into a bowl, and the women pick them out one at a time. Whoever’s keys the woman pulls out of the bowl is hers for the rest of the night. The scene is just awash in awkwardness, and it only becomes more so when Joan Allen picks out her key, and ends up heading out to the car with her “new man.” After chatting awkwardly for a while, they both decide that they might as well take advantage of the situation, and have sex.

The Scene – After an embrace that can only be described as awkward, the man pulls down his pants, pulls up her dress, and begins the sex act. Whether it’s the danger of the situation, the fact that he’s having sex with a new woman for the first time in a long while, or just because he’s bad in bed, he reaches orgasm almost immediately. His first comment after the act is “that was awful!” and apologizes profusely. The two of them are then left with what must have been feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

There are two things that strike me as tragically accurate about this scene. The first thing boils down to my theory that, if sex is like baseball, then a man’s prowess needs to be evaluated over a season, rather than a single at-bat. Professional players have practiced for literally thousands of hours in a batting cage and against live competition, but even the best of them strike out a hundred times every season. It’s no different in the bedroom. Strip away the bravado and locker room braggadocio, and you’re left with the sad fact that sometimes, sex doesn’t go according to plan. Sometimes it’s great, but on other occasions, all you can do is promise to make it up to her the next time; provided there is one. In this scene as it is sometimes in life, this dude has one chance to prove himself with a new woman…and he did not hit it out of the park. Now, not only did he blow his one chance, but he now carries around the knowledge that she thinks he’s shitty in bed. Ladies, this is the sort of pressure we face every time!

The second thing about this scene that strikes me as accurate is that it takes place in a car. Consider the fact that cars offer young lovers the first real combination of solitude and opportunity that they’re likely to get, it seems fair to say that many a first sexual encounter occurs while trying to press two bodies into the contours of a bucket seat. Add to this the fact that in the vast majority of such couplings, they are happening over the objection of others (parents the most obvious), thus adding to a sense of illicitness much like the aforementioned movie scene. Combine these two elements with a sub-par sexual performance, and I think we can all get a sense of what that drive home would be like.

(No video at all to be found. Sorry!)

So there you have it. Three scenes that depict sex – at least beginning sex – in such a way as to offer no delusions of grandeur to anyone involved.  Things always get better from there, but there’s no getting around those first few attempts, no matter what Hollywood tells you.

Mel Brooks might have once famously said “The worst sex I ever had was GREAT!” but even he wasn’t talking about the beginning.