“American Pie” hit the right chords in the right time, it caught lightning in a bottle, and I was there when it became a pop culture phenomenon. It made the development of the digital age a fun comedic prop, as our protagonist Jim is caught on the world wide web of dozens of people prematurely ejaculating, and dancing. It struck the iron at just the right point and for a while was a massive hit. Hell, it even invented the term “Milf” (Thus an entire popular porn sub-genre was born!) But watching it so many years later, it’s clear that “American Pie” is just not a very good movie. Maybe it’s because seventeen years later pop culture has redefined what’s raunchy about a thousand times over, but when you cut away at the sexual humor, what you have a pretty mediocre teen comedy.
No one in the movie really learns anything, but at least most of them get laid. And yes, that’s not what the movie is about as it wears its silliness on its sleeve. It features one of the supporting characters drinking a cup of beer with semen in it, for crying out loud. But when you peel away at the nuances of “American Pie” it’s about as bland as—well—apple pie. Four very bland protagonists all meant to represent some element of American youth of 1999, vow to get laid on Prom night before they go to college. They then seek out their fortune with their various girls that they like. They have no real personal growth, as I mentioned, but there are some fine comedic moments that still shine, despite “American Pie” being pretty forgettable in terms of narrative and obstacles these guys face. We’ve seen this all before in various comedies from the eighties, people.
We’ve seen this all before, except the only difference is the addition of technology, and how the movie is bold enough to go all the way with the sex comedy. We see someone swallow semen, and it’s both nauseating and hysterical, and we actually see star Jason Biggs with his pants down as he tries to simulate sex with an apple pie. What makes the running gag of “American Pie” so great with Biggs’ character is that his dad is so abundantly willing to adjust to his son’s growing fascination with sex, that it becomes absolutely uncomfortable. I also think Shannon Elizabeth is still painfully sexy as young foreign exchange student Nadia. The movie is wise enough to turn conventions on its head by making Nadia everything protagonist Jim could want, as she ends up being sexually adventurous, insanely hot, and is willing to fulfill his fantasies.
All of which are dashed thanks to cold hard reality as the thrills overwhelm Jim to the point of climax. It’s a giggle inducing sequence that ends on a disastrous twist. That said, once “American Pie” gets past the few and far between best sex gags, the narrative falls apart minute by minute. It’s a mediocre comedy with most of the main cast delivering only serviceable turns in a haze of attempted shocks like supporting player Eddie Kaye Thomas having sex with an older woman, and wholesome Alyson Hannigan from “Buffy” spouting the word “Pussy.”