Sex and the USA (2008) – By Cary Conley

Audrey Shaw is the awkward new girl at school, having moved across the entire country to settle into sunny southern California with her parents.   Just 14 and a freshman in high school, she is shy and nervous about fitting in.  She decides to document her freshman year on video.  Unbeknownst to her, the events she will document will have life-changing ramifications for her and her friends.

This docudrama, based on a true story, is a warning to teens and parents everywhere on the casual promiscuity that can lead to teen pregnancy, STD’s, and worse.  Filmed in a documentary style, the film takes the viewer through Audrey’s school year as the audience watches her transformation from shy teen to party girl extraordinaire.  Along the way the audience is treated to snippets of interviews with Audrey’s clueless parents, her holier-than-thou abstinence teacher, her best friend’s shallow mother, and other adults who inadvertently enable the group’s promiscuity by their utter cluelessness.

Similar to the scandal a few years ago when a group of teenage boys kept score of the number of girls they had oral sex and intercourse with, this time the real-life game is played by wearing colored rubber bracelets.  Each color is indicative of a sexual act from kissing to lap dances and progressing to oral sex, intercourse, and even anal sex.  While the movie is a fictional account of actual events, I do remember when this broke in the papers.  Teens across the United States play this game.  Many schools have even banned colored wristbands in an effort to curtail these activities.

Audrey begins her freshman year by enrolling in an abstinence class.  She thinks it is important to remain a virgin until marriage.  There she meets Krista, the beautiful, sexy, and ultra-popular California Blond prototype.  Krista befriends Audrey and takes her under her wing.  As Audrey is drawn in and accepted by Krista’s friends, she is seduced by this new world of drug-and-booze-fueled casual sex games.  By day, the group of friends, both male and female, study the Bible and discuss chastity and the dangers of premarital sex, but by night they become wild hedonists.  As Audrey documents these activities, the girls rationalize their behavior  by explaining that any sexual contact is fine as long as vaginal intercourse doesn’t take place so their virginity isn’t compromised.   As these girls say, oral and anal sex aren’t "SEX sex."  In fact, acts of lesbianism are appropriate as well because there is no penetration involved.  

Krista is the undeniable leader of the pack.  All the boys love her and she knows how to manipulate every single one of them.  Even though there is an unspoken agreement that they are all just FWB (Friends With Benefits), Krista is always there to exert her power over the others, alienating herself from many of her friends.  Explaining to Audrey that "it’s all for show," she engages in an intense makeout session with Audrey for the guys.  Audrey has fallen in love.  

As the parties get more intense, the drugs flow more freely, and the sex becomes more wild–at one point all the girls perform oral sex on all the guys as they stand in a line–the viewer feels as if they are watching a train screeching down the tracks with no brakes.  You get the sense that the teens are losing control–if they haven’t lost it already.  Finally the train crashes one night after the Spring Fling when a parent comes home early to not only find several half-naked teens with cocaine-caked noses, but her own son participating in the group rape of a severely drunken Krista.

There is no denying the impact of this film, especially if you are a parent of a teen or tween (I myself have a 12-year-old daughter).  While it is scary enough that these teens treat casual sex and heavy drug use frivolously, it is scarier to watch the parents ignore their children.  As Audrey interviews her parents, they are clearly uncomfortable talking about sex.  Even when Audrey admits she has been participating in sex parties, the parents would rather just change the subject.  There is no real alarm on their part.

As Krista’s mother explains to Audrey in another interview, they are concerned about Krista, which is why they "put a filter on the Internet."  This laughably inept effort at parenting goes unnoticed by Krista as she happily documents sexy pictures of she and Audrey on the Internet and picks up college guys on their website, Angelgirls.  In fact, one of the messages of the film is about the competition between the sadly outdated forms of abstinence education–which studies show have no impact on teen premarital sex–and the more modern communication technologies.  Just as any drunken girl in Fort Lauderdale is happy to perform for a "Girls Gone Wild" video, Krista and Audrey make their own pictures and videos, as many of the kids do, to put on the Internet for all to see.  

While the sexual dialogue is frank and there are many sexual situations, there is no real nudity and sex is generally implied or talked about instead of shown or depicted.  Regardless, this film would most likely garner an NC-17 if submitted to the MPAA.  As it stands, it is being released unrated.

Director Jan Wellman has created a fascinating study of the irrational rationalization of both teens and parents towards sex as well as a clear warning that today’s technologically savvy teen has a huge leg up on our terribly outdated modes of abstinence education.  Sometimes funny,  very powerful, and ultimately terrifying, this is a film to be seen by all parents regardless of the age of their  children.

The street date for this film is July 27, or you can go to for more information.