American Pie is a funny movie. Let’s get that out of the way first. It’s very funny; it’s also quite risque. The sexually squeamish be warned: the infamous scene in There’s Something About Mary is taken to the next level here, with the offending bodily fluid being ingested. The film is brutally frank and, occasionally, truthful about teen sex in a way I found refreshing. While there is the obligatory aggrandizing of sexual activity, it’s touched by a curious amount of sentimentality and even sensitivity.
First, the comedy. It’s almost entirely based upon sex and its various effects upon teenagers. The most uproarious scenes have been predictably shown in the ads–namely, an encounter between one of the male teens and the title characters. There’s a lot of masturbation jokes, too, but I think that even parents can relate to one scene in which a father desperately tries his hardest to successfully have That Talk with his son.
The basic plot line revolves around four teens–Oz (Chris Klein), Jim (Jason Biggs), Kevin (Thomas Ann Nicholas) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas)–who make a pact to lose their virginity by the time they graduate, in three weeks. What’s interesting is the way the stories play out–there’s a subtext to the comic writing that’s not there in other comedies. One of the boys’ story is a romance; another a tragedy; another a comedy, and the last a sort of Modernist carthasis, though it doesn’t really become clear until the end.
The performances are good. Biggs’s Jim is an affable lug, and his scenes with his well-intentioned father are funny as well as endearing. Chris Klein, as Oz, essentially reprises his role from Election, but rather than being an entirely clueless jock, he falls for a choir girl and begins to question his place in the school dynamic. Tara Reid, as Nicholas’s girlfriend Vicky, deserves a lot of credit for successfully portraying the sexual pressure on girls in today’s teen world. Natasha Lyonne is also a treat as Vicky’s “experienced” friend.
Buffy: The Vampire Slayer fans beware: Alyson Hannigan (Buffy‘s Willow) does appear in the film (as band geek Michelle), but her part is quite brief. However, her role pays off in one of the funniest lines in the film, shortly before the end.
American Pie will doubtlessly go down as one of the Great American Teen Flicks, like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Scream. It’s as enjoyable as, well, a good slice of pie.