American Pie Review

by Jerry Saravia (faust667 AT aol DOT com)
January 21st, 2000

I am not a big fan of gross-out comedies, particularly teenage gross-out comedies a la "Porky's" or the "Animal House" variety. Somehow, the idea that teenagers having nothing more on their heads than sexual promiscuity is not very appetizing. Well, sure, I was once a teenager myself, during the Republican 80's, and I did think about sex, but there were other things on my mind too. "American Pie" is about teens in the 90's, sharing their zestful quest for losing their virginity on prom night. But I am convinced that sex is not the only preoccupation facing teens of America.

Nevertheless, the film's opening sequence is a classic piece of raunchy humor. Jim (Jason Biggs) is watching a porno channel that is barely registering on the cable channel. But the channel's soundtrack is unmistakably clear, as Jim fondles himself until his parents enter the room and are horrified by his hormonal desires. He gets comical, expert advice from his father (hilariously played by Eugene Levy), who buys him all the porno mags he needs to understand sex. Still, Jim's curiousity gets to him when he is told that sex feels like "warm, apple pie."

Jim is not the only teen in high school hung up on sex - so are all his buddies, mostly lacrosse players. One player (the winsome Chris Klein from "Election") is not all he's cracked up to be, and feels that he has real sensitivity. He woos an intelligent choir girl (Mena Sevauri), who is taken by his willingness to sing just to get close to her.

The Jerry Lewis-like Jim may not just be interested in sex, but he has a predilection for its orgasmic innuendoes. In a triumphantly classic scene, Jim broadcasts his bedroom antics with a sexy foreign exchange student on the Internet. Only problem is that he is not aware this is being broadcast to the whole high school community! Jim struts barechested while the voluptuous female gets aroused by a skin magazine, and all the immature high-schoolers howl with laughter.

"American Pie's" saving grace is that some of these kids are made to seem human, unlike the cardboard cartoon characters of "Animal House" or any other horny teen flick from the late 80's starring Corey Feldman. No, these kids are sweet and human and, uh, oh, sensitive! Jim's one line about how a nerdy, talkative band player (Alyson Hannigan) has something else to talk about besides sex pretty much sums up the sensitivity factor. Naturally. it turns out she wants to use Jim because of his lusty, Net activity. Jason Biggs, Chris Klein and Mena Sevauri at least seem to come from the real world of teenagers, but the burning question remains: is there more to life in high school than sex? If you have seen "Election" or went to high school, you may be compelled to agree that there is.

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