Saturday 15 October 2011

Movie Review: American Pie (1999)

A teen sex comedy that not as much pushes the envelope as shoves it through the shredder, American Pie is a wild and raunchy film that reset the standard for a questionable sub-genre, and it is also much better than it has any right to be.

Four horny high school friends are about to graduate, and they are all still virgins. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Oz (Chris Klein), Jim (Jason Biggs) and Paul (Eddie Kaye Thomas) make a pact that by the end of prom night, they would each have had their first sexual encounter.

Kevin and Vicky (Tara Reid) are a steady couple: she wants to hear from him that he loves her before they sleep together; Kevin is not so sure that he can utter these words. Oz is a jock on the school lacrosse team; he decides to recast himself as a sensitive choir singer to improve his chances with girls. Sure enough Oz meets Heather (Mena Suvari), and she has to decide whether a reinvented Oz can be trusted.

Jim is hopelessly awkward around girls, and has to deal with a terribly gawky if well-meaning dad (Eugene Levy). After a massively failed attempt to have sex with hot foreign student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) is broadcast throughout the school intranet, Jim has to settle with taking blabbermouth Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) to the prom, and she can't stop yacking about band camp. Despite his best efforts to create a fake cool persona, Paul has no prospects when prom night starts; but he unexpectedly meets a cougar in the basement.

Earlier generations had Animal House (1978) and Porky's (1982) as defining films in the never-ending young male's quest to discover the joys of mating. In the very late 1990s, American Pie created it's own mini earthquake of a cultural impact. Sexy pies, MILFs, horny teens watching scrambled cable porn, early internet sex broadcasts, and fun with laxatives: the script by Adam Herz captured and then extrapolated what it meant to be a sex-obsessed teenager at the turn of the millennium, and made no apologies for being all about wanting to get laid.

The young cast of unknowns help make the film relevant to its intended audience, the only surprise being that none of them broke through to a significant career beyond the obvious sequels. The guys mostly disappeared into grade C productions, and the girls generally descended into Maxim photoshoots and faux celebrity status.

Accepted for what it is, American Pie is consistently funny, and wins high marks for boldness and originality. And for a generation of boys who grew up with the film, freshly baked pies would never look the same.

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