American Pie Review

by "Davis Monroe" (davismonroe AT hotmail DOT com)
July 12th, 1999

"American Pie"

With "Ten Things I Hate About You", "Sheís All That", "Idle Hands", "Cruel Intentions", "Carrie 2", and "Never Been Kissed", Iím very tired of teenage movies with bad teenage actors trying to make disastrous teenage performances with lame teenage dialog and bad thirty year old directors. Iím up to my ears in this crap and it keeps making money. "American Pie" isnít ground breaking material. In fact, out of all the examples above, this film is the best reason to fully examine why exactly this material is so beloved by the 17-21 year old film audience.

Screenwriter Adam Herz and director Paul Weitz fashion "American Pie" as this yearís "Porkyís". A movie about four high school seniors who vow to lose their virginity before prom. Each one will woo a fellow student to varying results, each will engage in completely unfunny comedic shenanigans that left my screening audience with tears in their eyes. I had a lump of coal in my stomach.

Itís rare to come across a comedy that on the outside has really nothing wrong with it. It tries to be funny. Itís gross-out gags are appropriately gross (but damn them for outright stealing the laxative gag, so soon at least, from "Dumb And Dumber"). It also features the grotesquely gratuitous nudity that I adore from a sex comedy. After "Pie" was served, I was left with the feeling that the audience was had too easily. If this move would have been half as clever as it could have been, we would be witness to the biggest teenage comic gem since Ferris took the day off.

The script is a loose concoction of distressingly elementary teenage drama intermixed with bawdy gags involving bodily secretions in beer, foreign exchange students (actress Shannon Elizabeth will be forgiven when she badmouths this performance in the future), self "love", and the typical set-pieces that come around whenever a "movie" keg is tapped. The entire film reeks of disrespect to females, but I will surely be creamed by everybody for bringing that up. Iíll just leave my criticisms to the simple "Itís just isnít funny". None of it. When Austin Powers drinks a cup of liquefied stool or the South Park kids swear without remorse, both films have plenty of ingenuity up their sleeves (in South Parkís case, brilliant musical numbers). We can count on hysterical visual gags or rip-roaring lines to back up the questionable material. "American Pie" canít do this. It isnít written with care or respect to the audience. Director Paul Weitz doesnít help the proceedings by making "Pie" the most aesthetically bland film of the year. Thatís surprising considering "Blair Witch Project" is shot with a camcorder and "South Park" is a creation of construction paper and glue. Itís a long shot, but some style might have made the bad medicine go down easier.

The cast if "American Pie" isnít anything to write home about. Chris Kline was memorable in Aprilís "Election" as the dimwitted jock with the heart of gold. Here he plays... the dimwitted jock with the heart of gold. Those scoring at home, scratch him off the list of ones to watch. Personal faves Natasha Lyonne and Tara Reid are asked to do nothing more that be the "girls" of the film. If they needed the money badly, that would explain their presence. Both actresses have done better previously. Hereís to the hope that they make rent this month and get back to films that exploit their respective talents more precision. Again I blame Paul Weitzís blasted direction. All that is expected of this cast is reaction and shock, not acting. Even comedy needs talented actors. Thatís why Eugene Levy ("SCTV") makes the only favorable impression here. Heís a comedy legend and he doesní t have to break a sweat to make a joke click. The rest of the cast could learn a thing or two.

"American Pie" is like catnip for teens. Itís outrageous, itís naughty, and the boys are cute. Thereís always that feeling when I donít like a certain comedy that I didnít quite get it. I donít feel that here. "Pie" is a bad film. A comedy that forgot the jokes and remembered the nonsense.---------------- 2

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