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ONM Remembered – #152

“Her hunky alter-go, Jake, must then learn how to behave like a man, negotiating such everyday laddish hazards as dating, bragging and public urinal etiquette.”


from N64 Magazine issue 17 (July 1998)

This headline always caught my eye, but I must never have actually read it, because it’s basically a load of guff about Nintendo dropping product placement in some off-beat sex comedy, Virtual Sexuality. I couldn’t find any other mention of Nintendo’s involvement in the film anywhere else, and I didn’t see many people talking about the movie online… so you know what I did? I sat down and watched it.


… who’s up for a film review?

THE SET-UP: bit where girls use nerdy guy to arrange date between Justine and potential totty
Virtual Sexuality
stars Justine, a seventeen year old virgin, and very much hung up about it. She’s constantly angsting over her social status, the ins and outs of how to woo a man, and how unfair it is that any old lout thinks they have a chance by shouting come-ons at her. Believing she’s going on a date with the regular hot bod Alex, she ends up attending the Virtual Reality 2000 expo with his geeky pal, Chas.


Justine samples Narcissus, a virtual reality body modifier, intended to make the ideal you, or the ideal partner. While creating her perfect man, an explosion rocks the expo, and she shambles from the wreckage to find herself… a him! After some initial confusion, male-Justine is dubbed Jake and shares a room with Chas, as the two try to figure out what happened, how to resolve it, and teach her the intricacies of male relationships. Things get complicated when not only are the inventors of Narcissus looking to kidnap Jake, but Justine is still at large, and has her eye set on her male self!


“I don’t think I could face it. I mean, mum’ll go nuts. Can you imagine? ʽHi mum, I’m back, oh, and by the way, I now shave twice a day and I’ve got nine inches of sausage stuck permanently down my pants.ʼ
“… nine inches?!”

It’s a teenage sex comedy, so you can’t come expecting sophisticated material – especially after that hokey plot summary. The first twenty minutes are neck-deep in the teen sex comedy chasm, dredging out clichés most dull, but it becomes a fairly enjoyable watch once it settles into its absurd premise. The plot has been done hundreds of times (and the director did it again seven years later), but it remains entertaining enough, thanks to the bumbling interactions between Jake, Chas, and their male peers. Some characters are literal props of the genre, but the acting is decent enough to make everyone relatively likeable and charming. Perhaps because the film settles into its niche so easily, but each plot twist comes as a real game changer, and make for a very entertaining climax – which has several explosions and at least one guy crushed by a truck, by the way. It’s a bit surreal.


Perhaps the most charming bit of the film for me is its snapshot of 1998 in technology. Chas’s computers are constantly running Windows 98 screensavers, and every instance of technology is represented by whopping big CRT monitors. The film introduces characters and concepts by printing labels in a suitably techno font, which is a cute touch and the source of some dumb jokes. One early recurring point is Justine wishing she could analyse people like “reading a barcode” to find her perfect man, a theme that pops up in dialogue a lot. It’s a fitting term, but feels a little archaic; then again, it’s better than anything they’d write for a modern version. She’s probably wish she could “scan their QR code”. Spare us all.


It’s an entertaining if brainless little watch with amusing technological artefacts, some nice sightseeing of London, and token scenes of boobs and willies, so there’s something for all the niche audiences. Further proving I’m the most inadequate reviewer, I sum up by saying “Virtual Sexuality tried to make a dumb teen sex comedy, and it did that just fine, I guess, so mission accomplished, right???” Because if you can’t wrap up a review efficiently, just loudly and proudly exploit the nearest cop-out.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE VIDEO GAMES???
Or I could segway into those, that works!


I mention the tech a lot, but thematically, it’s probably the most minor theme of the film, moreso than the sub-plot of Chas’s parents worrying that he’s gay. And to be gossiped about in bloody N64 Magazine, you’d be hoping to see a movie absolutely drenched in Nintendo gamer-nerd fanservice, right?
You get three minutes of video games. Tops. None of it is Nintendo.
:/


The Virtual Reality 2000 expo is basically a huge PlayStation commercial immortalised on film. Sony’s logo is shoved into the corner of most shots, there’s games, stalls, banners, and all sorts of magical artefacts from promotional campaigns. Among the games displayed or promoted, there’s Battle Arena Toshinden


V-Rally
, Tekken…


Time Crisis
, and the one PlayStation game we all love and remember, Jersey Devil (which I’m pretty sure was really old news in 1999).


Games I can’t identify include a racing game with a Union Jack emblazoned Mini Cooper, and some sort of FPS about blasting big nasty spiders.


And finally, Chas completely fails at WipeOut during the ending for the sake of a romantic metaphor.


A square-headed Mario does make a walk-on cameo during the expo, and a Goldeneye standee can be seen like a million miles away for a split second, but that’s the extent of Nintendo’s input. Disappointing, isn’t it?

Going back to the scan in question for a second, it proposes a November 1998 release date for the film, but it didn’t come out until the Summer of the following year. I sure as heck don’t remember a Bond-level marketing campaign for it, and most of the product placement was probably incredibly outdated by the time of release.

Well, that’s over two hours I’ve spent watching and writing about something for the sake of a small magazine snippet. It was an amusing and unexpected diversion, I think!
Having said that, I’ve just learnt that the film is subsequently based off a book, and now I’m curious if it’s got any video game crap in it as well. Will I take the plunge and spend £0.01 (plus £2.80 shipping and handling) to read it, or will I instead dedicate my precious and valuable time to refreshing Tumblr every five minutes in the dire hope of someone entertaining me? I think we all know the answer.