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Freshman Orientation: School gaze

Campus sex romp gives all the wrong advice

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Blowjobs, bitchy sorority girls, flannel-wearing lesbians, vomit and frat boys: There are few low-hanging clichés Ryan Shiraki, writer/director of Freshman Orientation, doesn't gobble up in this desperately lame collegiate comedy with a gay twist.

Between the Porky's feel and the cheapskate sitcom mise en scene, audiences for Freshman Orientation may feel as though they've stumbled into a teen-sex comedy circa 1982. Shiraki's feature-length film proposes to be a morality play about the road to recovery from misogynist to sensitive boyfriend.

Freshman Orientation initially was titled Home of Phobia, but the filmmakers may have rightly discerned that any audience for their film probably wouldn't grasp the pun and so changed the name.

Clay Adams (Sam Huntington) plays a horny 18-year-old college freshman who discovers the quickest way to get into the pants of elusive sorority girl Amanda (Kaitlin Doubleday) is to pretend he's gay. In a secondary, equally ludicrous plot line, Clay finds himself mistakenly identified as a victim in a campus gay-bashing incident. Hilarity does not ensue.

The film's one bright spot may be a brief appearance by John Goodman as a good-natured überqueen bartender who gives Clay a crash course in being gay. Utterly wasted as an abject, funny sidekick is Welcome to the Dollhouse star Heather Matarazzo as Amanda's BFF.

Shiraki appears to think he's saying something substantial here: about how gay men listen to women, help them with their wardrobes and befriend them in a way straight men – with their eyes on the prize – often don't. But with such cartoonish characters, juvenile comedy and enough T&A to fill a year's subscription to Maxim, Shiraki seems more than a little confused on the "respect women more" front.

A film that begins like a crude '80s sex comedy soon reveals itself instead to be a crude gay sex comedy, an unfortunately blossoming trend.

For the record, Shiraki's next film is called Spring Breakdown. Be very afraid.

Freshman Orientation 0 stars Directed by Ryan Shiraki. Stars Sam Huntington, Kaitlin Doubleday, Marla Sokoloff. Rated R. Opens Fri., Dec. 7. At Landmark Midtown Art Cinema. (View trailer

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