American Pie Reviewby Eugene Novikov (lordeugene_98 AT yahoo DOT com)
July 8th, 1999
American Pie (1999)
Reviewed by Eugene Novikov
Member: Online Film Critics Society
*** out of four
"Suck me, beautiful!"
Starring Jason Biggs, Thomas DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker, Chris Klein, Eugene Levy, Thomas Ian Nichols, Natasha Lyonne. Rated R.
Hollywood has been buzzing about American Pie for months, with early rumors comparing it with There's Something About Mary and claiming that it "pushes the envelope" with regard to outrageousness. They were wrong. It doesn't push the envelope: it throws the envelope at you, and damned if it doesn't work.
This is unquestionably a teen film but the plot is enough to make parents wince: a group of high school seniors make a pact that each of them will lose their virginity by graduation time in order to avoid potential embarassment in college. There's barely a few weeks left and for most of them it looks like prom night is their last hope. Each of them tries to devise their own plan to reach their goal, and some of those plans have unexpected consequences.
Of course there has to be some experimentation before they get to the real thing, so one of the protagonists asks "what third base feels like," and the response he gets is "like sweet warm, apple pie." When he comes home and finds a delicious looking apple pie on the kitchen table, what happens is anyone's guess. In another, equally gross scene, another one of the characters "inherits" a sex bible, made by high school seniors for high school seniors and passed down each year to another deserving candidate. He learns something new to try on his girlfriend called "The Tongue Tornado", which I won't (and can't) describe here.
First time director Chris Weitz (who co-wrote the film with brother Paul Weitz, the two also wrote Antz, one of last year's best films) first throws every trick in the book at you, then he throws the book and then starts hurling random objects (including that envelope I mentioned earlier) at the speed of a very large rabbit on steroids. He invariably gets the audience hooting, applauding and -- oh yeah -- laughing their hearts out. His jokes are disgusting and juvenile but also hilarious, even though we're not often proud of what we're laughing at. That, too, can be taken as a virtue: it takes talent to make us laugh at something we find vulgar, profane and gross.
The acting is of no importance in a movie like this, but what is present here is more than passable. Newcomer Jason Biggs is palatably insecure in what is probably the most significant role in the movie. Natasha Lyonne (whom we first saw in Slums of Beverly Hills) is delightful in a disappointingly minor role.
I'm not quite sure that I like the ending of American Pie. It's needlessly shallow, and I predict that Conservative activist groups will never let the filmmakers hear the end of it. But despite the movie's eventual fallacy, there is no ignoring its merits. It's a hilarious, affectionate look at teenagers' obsession with sex. While it's not exactly substantial and thematically sound, it'll sure as hell do.
What we have here is one of the rudest and crudest films I've seen this side of Pink Flamingoes. What we have here is one of the funniest films I've seen this side of the Austin Powers franchise and some of Mel Brooks' work. What we have here is a rollicking comic delight, an eye- popping gross out and a terrific summer film.
©1999 Eugene Novikov
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