American Pie Presents The Naked MileReviewed By David Cornelius
Posted 12/20/06 16:50:37
Remember “George Lucas in Love,” that short film that shot around the internet years back? Not only was it a terrific little comedy, but it also hit big at the right time, when parody-based internet shorts were getting up-and-comers plenty of notice and quite a few job offers. So whatever came of Joe Nussbaum, the director and co-writer of that gem?Here’s where things turn ugly. After his feature debut with the fluffy tween comedy “Sleepover” in 2004 and a brief stint writing for the Muppet snippets that played on Movies.com, Nussbaum wound up here, helming “American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile.” If you recall last year’s “American Pie Presents: Band Camp,” you will see why I’m overcome with the urge to send Nussbaum a sympathy fruit basket. This is not at all where you want your career to wind up.
Yes, kids, they’ve gone and made another “American Pie” direct-to-video effort, and it seems as though Universal is content in churning these things out on a yearly basis from now on, leading the “American Pie” brand to compete with “National Lampoon” as the new trademark of suck.
What we witness in “The Naked Mile” is a franchise desperate to repeat its good fortunes, so much so that there’s one awkward scene midway through in which Eugene Levy, inexplicably returning yet again as Jim’s Dad, is required to recap every memorable (and several less-than-memorable) moment from the first three films, all in a frantic grab at reminding us why we’ve even bothered to sit down with this thing in the first place. The screenplay (from first-timer Erik Lindsay) then struggles to mix the sweetness of Jason Biggs’ Jim with the sourness of Seann William Scott’s Stifler; more-of-the-same Stifler (via an obnoxious younger brother) proved to be too much in “Band Camp,” and so here we get a Stifler cousin, Erik (John White), who, in what is supposed to be a clever twist, is a Jim-esque bumbling virgin.
The script has worked up a flop sweat trying to repeat the vulgarities of the formal trilogy, leaving us once again with gross-out that remember the gross but forget the joke. One gag finds our hero defecating inside a clothes dryer; another reveals horse dung on a porch, ha ha. Free-flying male ejaculate is everywhere throughout the film - including a scene involving an unsuspecting grandmother getting covered in the stuff. A drinking game ends with projectile vomit smothering a sorority gal. Crotches are kicked, punched, and otherwise mangled.
Crude, sure. Vulgar, no doubt. But funny? Not at all. The filmmakers have left their funny at the door, figuring we’ll just howl at the grossness of it all, so who needs punchlines? In fact, who needs a story? Much of the movie ignores the plot entirely and instead showcases overlong party scenes and football matches. It’s not much fun watching other people have fun if that’s all there is to it. There’s an awful lot of young actors chugging beers and yelling “woo!,” which leaves the film looking like somebody’s lame home movie and not a comedy worth watching.
As for the story, whenever the movie finds time for it: Erik and his high school pals head out to visit his cousin, Adam Stifler (Steve Talley), at college for a weekend of partying, culminating in “the naked mile,” in which hundreds of co-eds streak across campus. (Side note: the notion of large breasts bouncing heavily while running seems more unpleasant for the owner than is ever mentioned throughout. The same goes for male discomfort caused when running full-steam while hauling an erection. It’s why they make sports bras and cold showers, people.) Subplot no. 1: Erik’s girlfriend, Tracy (Jessy Schram), tells him he can have all the guilt-free sex while there, a choice she quickly regrets. Subplot no. 2: Stiflers and Co. repeatedly face off with an archrival frat made up of little people (led by Jordan Prentice, who, I kid you not, was one of the actors to fill the Howard the Duck suit). Jim’s Dad shows up randomly to dispense advice and, I dunno, pay for Levy’s new car.It is, surprisingly, even worse than you think it is, with hackneyed storylines, half-assed jokes, embarrassingly awful acting, and, yes, insipid direction. It’s the sort of comedy where you can place bets on which tiresome punchline will wrap up each scene, where every subplot wraps up exactly like you thought it would, only dumber. (Spoiler: Erik eventually decides not to have sex at college after all; he races home and nails Tracy all night long, all to remind us that sex isn’t everything. Um, what?) This is direct-to-video filler at its very worst, a movie that invites you to actively loathe it. Welcome to the new “American Pie.”
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