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American Pie (1999) – Movie Review

American Pie

Written by: Adam Herz
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Eugene Levy

My Advice: Wait and rent it.

Four young men about to graduate high school decide that they have a problem. Everyone they know, including ubergeek Sherman (Chris Owen), has gotten laid except for them. Throwing down the gauntlet among them, they make a pact to lose their virginity by the night of their senior prom. Now. When a movie’s highlight is advertised to be a young man humping a pie, you pretty much know what you’re in for: the awkward and sometimes funny experience of becoming a sexual being. La la. But don’t expect a well-rounded coming of age film here. Unfortunately, it has two major strikes against it.

[ad#longpost]First of all, it wants to hit you with a major dose of sheer raunch. Which is all well and good, considering the subject matter. There’s certainly room for some sophomoric nasty humor in this world. The problem is that, like so many other recent films in that vein, the reliance is on the juvenile and nasty while the filmmakers seem to completely forget the humor for long stretches of time. A certain spiked drink at a party comes to mind, as well as the aforementioned dessert intimacy. Nasty, not funny. When something does manage to achieve funny, such as a bungled live feed across the Internet for example, it’s stretched out until it’s almost transparent. This is a shame, because when the film does manage to finally score (sorry) it does so in a big way. Eugene Levy‘s performance as a father who doesn’t quite know the best way to engage his son (Biggs) in a birds and bees type chat is wonderful. The dead-on homage to The Graduate later in the film is gutbustingly funny as is a few moments toward the end with Alyson Hannigan. But these moments are simply flashes in the pan, which is a pity.

Secondly, the film wants to pull up before it nosedives into the aforementioned sex humor. It wants us to, in sporadic fits and starts, sit up and really ponder why four young men would go to so much trouble to do the horizontal mambo dance of love. Whenever we have those moments of introspection and commentary, clearly placed there to say “Look, we’re making a responsible film about seventeen year olds getting it on!” it is a severe clash with everything else we’ve seen. These jarring moments, coupled with the fact the movie simply isn’t that funny, make for an uneven viewing experience that is best done while couching out at home.

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