American Pie Reviewby "Steve Rhodes" (Steve DOT Rhodes AT InternetReviews DOT com)
July 28th, 1999
A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 1999 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): ** 1/2
Ho hum. A movie about high school senior buddies who vow to lose their virginity before the school year is over.
The big surprise? With this theme, AMERICAN PIE, which spends half of the movie trying to be a teenage version of THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, devotes the other half to a sweet story about the awkwardness of sex and the tenderness of one's first intimate relationship. While never fully satisfactory at either, it is a comedy with some nice laughs, and a romance with some sweet moments.
Four guys take the sex-by-prom-time pledge. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), who has already been to third base, is the most advanced sexually, but he has a phobia about saying the word "love." Jim (Jason Biggs) is the "batboy" since he hasn't even been to first base. Chris "Oz" Ostreicher (Chris Klein) is a jock with a heart of gold, who is willing to take up choir to impress the girls. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), a Latin geek whose meticulous sensibilities keep him from using the restroom at the high school, plants rumors of his alleged enormous organ as a come-on to the opposite sex.
In contrast, their other buddies, including Stifler (Seann William Scott) and Sherman (Chris Owen), appear to be getting all the sex they want.
Although the movie is presented from the boys' point of view, the girls (Mena Suvari, Natasha Lyonne, Tara Reid, Alyson Hannigan and Shannon Elizabeth) get much better written parts than might be expected. There is even a Mrs. Robinson clone, played by Jennifer Coolidge. Lest we miss the allusion to THE GRADUATE, they play the Mrs. Robinson song during the seduction scene.
The film moves with relative ease between scenes involving oral sex, masturbation, diarrhea and regurgitation and those of romantic affirmations of love. It is a tribute to writer Adam Herz and director Paul Weitz that they manage to put both extreme sexual humor and delicate romance in the same movie without the one completely canceling the other. Even so, the blend causes neither to fulfil its promise. The audience is forced to vacillate between emotions, never comfortably settling in either mode.
So why did they title it AMERICAN PIE?
Don't ask. The pie, like MARY's hair "gel," is the story's comedic centerpiece. Suffice it to say that Jim, a shy teen with raging hormones, finds something to do with a warm pie that doesn't have a Better Homes and Gardens' seal of approval.
AMERICAN PIE runs 1:35. It is rated R for strong sexuality, crude sexual dialogue, language and drinking, all involving teens. The movie would be acceptable for older teens.
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