American Pie satisfies teen appetites
by Jumana Farouky
AMERICAN PIE, Directed by Paul Weitz. Written by Adam Herz. With Jason Biggs, Shannon
Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas,
Tara Reid, Seann W. Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Eugene Levy.
There's nothing wrong with a little T&A. And there's something hilarious
about a lot of it. Just ask the folks who unleashed frat-house staples like
Animal House and Porky's on hormonally charged audiences, knowing
full well that sex doesn't sell just cars and shaving cream. It's 20 years
later and moviegoers are just as horny, but casual, comedic sex has all but
disappeared from the big screen. Shackled by rabid political correctness, and
scared stiff (no pun intended) by even a whiff of sexual harassment,
moviemakers seem to have forgotten that the combination of people and sex --
people wanting sex, people having sex, people watching people having sex -- can
be damn funny.
Enter American Pie, a film that remembers what it was like to be a
teenager. When teens aren't having sex, they're wishing they were, and that's
the position the movie's four young friends find themselves in: graduation
looms and all four guys are still virgins. Their solution is to make a pact --
by any and all means necessary, each must knock boots by the end of prom night.
In the hands of Chris and Paul Weitz (producer and director, respectively), a
potentially vulgar and pathetic story becomes a sinful pleasure. The boys try
so hard to bed the girls of their desires, you can't help hoping that in the
end they'll all get what they want. And then you remember that what they want
is to play hide the salami -- yet still you cheer them on.
The brothers Weitz don't miss any opportunity for a sex gag. Finding himself
sans tissue after sneaking off with his girlfriend at a party, Kevin
(Thomas Ian Nicholas -- a little taller than he was in Rookie of the
Year) deposits some of his love juice into a cup of beer and sets it on the
bedside table. The gag is set, the punch line is coming, you can only wait. And
sure enough, a clueless partygoer takes a swig, but not before bringing the cup
to his lips several times only to be interrupted by his whiny girlfriend.
Crude? Yes. Predictable? Certainly. But also utterly satisfying. And when the
aforementioned partygoer tells the shy, dorky Jim (newcomer Jason Biggs -- a
baby John Belushi) that sex feels like "warm apple pie," you want Jim to
encounter said fruity treat and you need him to get all sorts of
perverse ideas. And indeed he does. Follow the cast into that part of your mind
that thinks masturbation jokes are funny and you will be greatly rewarded.
American Pie shines where other teen flicks glaze over. There's no soul
searching, no lost-little-boy-to-caring-sharing-man transformation, no deeply
profound revelation about life, love, or football. Just a group of guys trying
to get some. Refreshing honesty in a time when most movies for teens preach
that maturity means shunning carnal pleasures and love is never wanting to say,
"I'd really like to see you naked some time." The Weitzes include actual
nakedness -- earning their film the "R" rating that will have kids nationwide
pulling out their fake IDs. Meanwhile, Jennifer Love Hewitt in I Still Know
What You Did . . . wears a tight, white, wet
shirt . . . she's naked, but not really (wink, wink). Score one
for Pie, the thinking-kid's skin flick, which doesn't insult the
audience's intelligence by pretending sex isn't the driving force behind
More savvy than a Porky's revisited, American Pie offers a slice
(pun intended) of teenage life that other films tend to sweep under the rug.
Adults who still chuckle when they think of their own testosterone-driven
high-school antics will appreciate its honesty, as will kids who are sick of
movies that portray them as either psychos or heroes. An equal-opportunity
rompathon, the film doesn't ignore the ladies. Girls like to get their rocks
off too, and in the end everybody wins. Turns out the good girls aren't always
so good and the bad girls are even worse.
Of course, common sense and a little mush make appearances as condoms abound
and somebody even falls in love. But with a healthy sense of humor about youth
and sex, this movie will earn a coveted spot next to Fast Times at Ridgemont
High in every college kid's video collection. It usually takes years, even
decades, for a film to reach cult-classic status; American Pie is