Thursday, August 14, 2008

American Pie (1999) & American Pie 2 (2001)

American Pie 1 & 2 Title
Strictly speaking I only own American Pie on VHS, though I do own American Pie 2 on DVD. However, I didn't feel that it would be fair to review American Pie 2 without also review the original.1

In the summer of 1999, my friend Corey2 and I went to see American Pie in theaters. It was the first film like it I'd ever seen. It raised the bar on raunchy teen sex comedies. Many films since have raised the bar even further, but I like to think that this film marked a change.3 It both popularized the term “MILF,”4 and changed the way we look at band geeks. This film also has the dubious distinction of launching quite a few actors to stardom, Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, and Shannon Elizabeth.5 Some of these careers have obviously fared better than others, and some are more of a detriment to film, but that's neither here nor there.

While American Pie did raise the bar and change things in teen sex comedies, it is nevertheless a teen sex comedy, and so therefor follows a certain storyline. A group of guys vow to lose their virginity by the end of the school year, hedging their bets that prom will be their golden ticket, which of course works out differently than each person had expected.

Jason Biggs, Eugene Levy, American Pie 2
This film found its place in my DVD collection as one of my favorite teen flicks from that era of my life. While I still enjoy it, I think a good deal of its appeal comes from it's nostalgic appeal. American Pie 2 made its way into my dvd collection by sheer virtue of my obsessive need to own the entirety of a series.6

For their sequel, the writers and producers seemed to realize that one of the appealing factors of the original film was the heaps of embarrassment that Jason Biggs finds himself in. With that in mind, they created a host of torments to subject him to, primarily embarrassment of the body.7

An interesting thing about these films is that whereas the first film was almost given an NC-17 rating for having Biggs horizontally hump his apple pie, the second film goes full bore in showing Biggs wearing nothing but his hand. Both films, of course, contain ample female nudity which does not apparently warrant a higher rating. The success of the unrated versions of the American Pie films seem to have spawned an entire industry of filming content simply for the unrated DVD version, especially of the ____ Movie series.

The second film in many ways lacks a driving point that the first one did, rather it seeks to fill as many embarrassing situations and assigning Stiflerisms as it can. It still manages to be amusing, and worth the occasional watch, especially since Allison Hannigan's character is greatly expanded beyond a mere caricature of a Band Geek but a full fledged person. Of course, ever tyime I watch these movies I experience a little bit of Schadenfreude, because I saw an interview with Thomas Ian Nichols where he sees himself as the star of these films when it is so obviously Jason Biggs, and his delusion in painful. Maybe the role was originally pitched to him as the lead, but the "normal" kid is not the person the audience identifies with.

Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott kiss
Michelle: One time, at band camp...

Notes:
1. I do not now, nor will I ever own the train wreck that is American Wedding, nor will I now or ever own any of the other American Pie Presents films.
2. From Boys State. He was my "friend to last a lifetime."
3. Of course, late 70s and early 80s teen sex comedies (e.g., Porky's) also contained a level of sexuality that shouldn't be ignored, but American Pie has a different level of raunch to it.
4. Of course, I think today the preferred term is "Cougar."
5. Already “famous” were Thomas Ian Nicholas, Alyson Hannigan, Tara Reid, Natasha Lyonne, and Mena Suvari. And in a bit part we see John Cho, who first lets us in on the term of MILF. And Casey Affleck makes an appearance as well. Of course, we shouldn't forget the brilliant performances of Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolige
6. A habit both American Wedding and Spider-Man 3 broke me from doing anymore.
7. To get a little Foucauldian.

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