At first glance, Banging Lanie could very well be dismissed as an American Pie clone, the story of a geeky high schooler looking to lose their virginity, with an added element of scientific experimentation thrown in for good measure. In fact, Alison Powell – who writes and directs, as well as stars as Lanie – has crafted a funny, sweet movie that exceeds its familiar premise with heart and soul.
Lanie is a studious teen, focussed on applying to college and earning the scholarship that will enable her to go, who is disgusted by the promiscuity of her classmates. A surprise encounter in science class (and the compulsory sex education she unwillingly receives), sets her mind (and body) racing, and she embarks upon an experiment which will culminate in the loss of her virginity, each step carefully annotated along the way.
Powell makes for a convincing confused teen, and her script and direction belie her lack of experience in that department. Her Lanie Burroughs is not the caricature she could so easily have been, and the supporting cast fills out the occasionally-ridiculous premise, with Juan Felipe Restrepo and Damian Alonso as gay confidante Phillip and object of desire Jordan, respectively, especially adding weight.
When she’s not making films of her own, Powell is dedicated to helping others make them, but Banging Lanie is proof that she should concentrate on her own endeavours, a wonderful first entry into what is hopefully a long catalogue of similarly-engaging human stories.