Sarah Jacobson’s debut feature, “Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore,” is a hopelessly amateurish GenX comedy suffused with the self-satisfied air of something made by and for a small group of friends. Grungy comingofage pic somehow landed a slot in the American Spectrum showcase of the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. Out in the real world, however, “Mary Jane” will be lucky to find midnight dates in small college-town cinemas.
Actually, pic might find its most receptive audience at the seedy innercity arthouse where most of the narrative unfolds. Mary Jane (Lisa Gerstein), a high school senior from the suburbs, desperately wants to be accepted by the other teens and twentysomethings who work at the theater with her.
The opening scene finds her leaving an afterhours party with Steve (Shane Kramer), an insensitive clod who unceremoniously deflowers her in a nearby cemetery. The experience is so degrading, Mary Jane is ready to swear off sex. Fortunately, she’s introduced to the joy of selfgratification by a more worldly coworker. Even more fortunately, she has a blissful onenight stand with Tom (Chris Enright), a sensitive hunk who’s willing to take his time when it comes to satisfying a sex partner.
Given the general cheesiness of the production values, and the heavy emphasis placed in pic’s first half on sexual talk and activity, “Mary Jane” occasionally recalls the hardcore cheapies of the early 1970s. To be sure, pic stops far short of explicit action, but the opening scene is just revealing enough to risk an NC17 rating.
Even so, bulk of pic is relatively innocuous fluff involving Mary Jane’s interactions with the various slackers, punk rockers and skater dudes who work at the movie theater. A few of her coworkers are as aggressively colorful as supporting players in a bad TV sitcom. As the heavydrinking Matt, Andrew David DeAngelo spends most of the pic trying his best to look and sound like a younger and surlier Judd Nelson.
Pic’s most engaging performance comes from Greg Cruikshank as Dave, the gay theater manager who serves as a wise and patient father figure for his staffers. In the title role, Gerstein is persuasively awkward and ingenuous. Other performances range from adequate to overstated. Alternative rocker Jello Biafra has a long, unamusing and badly postsynched cameo as a morally outraged theater patron.