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American Pie   B

Universal Pictures

Year Released: 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Paul Weitz
Writer: Adam Herz
Cast: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Chris Owen.

Review by Michael Scrutchin

As a raunchy but sweet-at-heart teen sex comedy, American Pie goes down great -- light but very satisfying. It's reminiscent of all those 1980s teen sex comedies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Porky's, but it also reminds us of more recent movies like There's Something About Mary with its gross-out gags.

In the film, four high school seniors make a pact to lose their virginity by prom night -- which is only a few weeks away. They don't want to go to college virgins, after all. "I bet they have dorms for people like us," one of the guys says just before they make the pact. So begins their quest for the Holy Grail.

The four friends are Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). Jim is our Everyguy main character here, and his quest to get laid is probably the most embarrassing. He first sets his sights on sexy foreign exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), but once that falls through -- because of a hilariously backfired Internet incident -- he may just have to settle for asking the band geek (Alyson Hannigan) to prom.

Oz, the nice-guy jock, decides to join the school choir and show off his sensitive side in hopes of getting some. He hooks up with Heather, a pretty, smart choirgirl played by Mena Suvari (who went on to play Kevin Spacey's object of lust in American Beauty).

Kevin already has a beautiful girlfriend, Vicky (Tara Reid), but they haven't gone all the way yet. They care a lot about each other, but Vicky still isn't sure if she's ready to take the plunge.

Finch, well, he's the dorkiest of the bunch -- he drinks mochachino every day at school, refuses to take dumps at school and goes home instead ("Have you looked at the facilities at school lately?"). But somehow word begins to spread among the girls at school about him having quite a package.

Overall, American Pie is a really good time. Mostly, it's a comedy that feeds off of embarrassing moments (like Jim always forgetting to lock the door when he's engaging in self-gratification). The first thing we see when the movie opens is Jim trying to get off -- using an extra-long tube sock as protection -- while watching scrambled porn on TV. Of course, the best scenes are arguably the ones with Jim and his dad (Eugene Levy), who tries to give him some pointers on the birds and the bees -- using magazines like Hustler and Shaved for illustration -- and who always seems to walk in on Jim at the worst possible moment. You'll never look at apple pie the same again.

But for all its raunchiness, American Pie always has its heart in the right place. The comedy is never mean-spirited, and this movie has true affection for its characters. And while the guys are on their quest for some quick sex, a couple of them actually start to develop feelings for the girls that they're trying to get into bed. It'll leave you with a smile on your face, and that's not too shabby at all.

Review published 02.04.2000.

Follow Michael Scrutchin on Twitter or Letterboxd.

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