American Pie Review

by Bill Chambers (wchamber AT netcom DOT ca)
July 9th, 1999

AMERICAN PIE *** (out of four)
-a review by Bill Chambers ([email protected])

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starring Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Chris Klein, Tara Reid screenplay by Adam Herz
directed by Paul Weitz

American Pie acknowledges a cold, hard fact that most movies donít: it is very difficult to get laid. Its four virgin heroes are Jim (Biggs), a chronic masturbator, Kev (Nicholas), who desperately wants to deflower his girlfriend (Reid), Oz (Klein), a lacrosse player whose approach requires some fine tuning, and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), a germphobe (his crass nickname is hilarious, but I wonít spoil it here) who pays a classmate to spread rumours about the size of his member.
Jim, Kev, Oz and Finch attend a high school in suburban Michigan full of so many impossibly beautiful women itís no wonder theyíre horny all the time. After a party at their studly friend Stiflerís (Seann William Scott, in the filmís sharpest performance) house leaves them sexually unsatisfied, the quartet make a pact: to "lose it" by graduationóspecifically, prom night, which is only a few weeks away.
American Pie is in the tradition of Bachelor Party or Revenge of the Nerds. Almost every conversation these characters have revolves around makiní whoopee. All women are there to be ogled. (Alyson Hanniganís perky music student is the only memorable female of the bunch.) Situations abound that defy logic only to arouse and/or amuse its core audience, adolescent boys. (To arouse: Nadiaís (Shannon Elizabeth) Internet stripteaseóan unexpectedly raucous (and guiltily pleasurable) sequence. To amuse: Jimís lusty encounter with a hot apple pie.)
What differentiates American Pie from those dirty eighties comedies, aside from a very nineties obsession with bodily fluids*, is a cast thatís light years more appealing than that of, say, Just One of the Guys. Two more standouts: Klein and "SCTV"ís Eugene Levy. Klein plays a kind-hearted athlete for the second time in a row, after Alexander Payneís underappreciated Election. I hope to see more of this warm actor with the disarmingly honest face very soon. Levyís is the most crowd-pleasing performance, and indeed, itís nice to see him back on the big screen in a role that makes wonderful use of that expressive brow.

American Pie also wants to emulate the teen flicks your parents _would_ let you watch growing up. It skillfully employs a broad mix of pop tunes, much like John Hughesí movies did, and even pays homage to The Breakfast Club a couple of times, most evidently when the prom band covers Simple Mindsí "Donít You (Forget About Me)."

The picture ultimately has a healthy, if obligatory, attitude towards safe sexóeven at their most libidinous, American Pieís protagonists first whip out a condom. The filmmakers prove that socially responsible raunch is possible.

For its familiarity and for its charming leads, I recommend American Pie, but the buzz on this film had me expecting something...fresher. As far as the New Teen Cinema goes, itís at the top of the heap.
*Don't say I didn't warn you about the party scene.

    -July, 1999

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