American PieReviewed By desdemona
Posted 07/11/99 01:04:36
Lately, movies have been trying very hard (and unsuccessfully) to encapsulate teenage angst and sexual confusion in a comedy that, throughout its 90-minute course, solves all the problems of the characters and teaches a moral lesson. However, these movies are almost never true to real life. American Pie, on the other hand, was not one of those movies.When one thinks of a good movie about teenagers and their troubles, movies like The Breakfast Club and Fast Times at Ridgemont High are the first to pop into mind. American Pie will soon be another. A little bit Breakfast Club, a little bit Fast Times, this movie realistically explores and deals with teenage confusions and anxieties about sex, sex, and sex.
American Pie is about five teenage virgin male friends that are all trying like mad to get laid. The story focuses mainly on somewhat dorky Jim (Jason Biggs)and his best friend Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), along with their other friends Chris and Paul. Each boy is extremely curious about sex, and each would do just about anything to get laid.
Yes, Jim does AHEM an apple pie.
That aside, the four friends make a pact that they will all "do it" by prom night, just so they can say that they have. None of them really care about the potential partner involved; the sex itself is really all they care about. Jim gets an exchange student sent back to her own country by posting naked real-time pictures of her on the Internet; Kevin repeatedly insults and upsets his girlfriend by making sex practically the only thing he will discuss; Chris joins the jazz choir to meet chicks ("a resource that is virtually untapped"); and Paul has friend Jessica (Natasha Lyonne) spread rumors about him having a huge penis. To sum it all up, they were all pretty desperate.
But alas, these boys haven't got the slightest idea what they're doing, and that makes for some seriously funny sexual comedy. The main character Jim has one mortifying moment after another happen to him; things that will make you squirm in your seat with anxiety FOR him, simply because something similar might have happened to you. His humiliation is relatable. These guys are so pathetic and so pathetically clueless you feel sorry them (even though you're laughing uncontrollably at them the whole time).
This movie uses such typically taboo topics as masturbation to make deliciously tasteless jokes; your jaw will drop at the bluntness but YOU WILL LAUGH. This is not the kind of movie that parents will like too much; if not just because it deals with issues about teens that they would prefer not to think about, then just because of the crassly explicit humor involved. But hey, at least it's realistic. Teenagers don't sit around and drink Cokes all day; they drink beer, get blow jobs, party a whole lot, and think about sex more often than not.
This movie wasn't always entirely realistic: it played off of a lot of the typical teenager stereotypes (jocks, band nerds, and so on), and the different relationships between all the different people wasn't exactly representative of all teenage relationships. But despite those minor flaws, this movie was a very witty and intelligent look at sexual clumsiness and confusion amongst the teenage population.
Director Paul Weitz did an excellent job of directing these misfits in what is perhaps the best movie about teenagers since The Breakfast Club, and writer Adam Herz must be given proper credit for creating an outrageous comedy about teenage sex in the '90s.
American Pie was wickedly funny, but it was also appropriately serious. In the beginning, all the boys cared about was having sex, but they didn't care about the other person that would be involved. But by the end, each boy had learned a lesson, and the ones that were excessively obnoxious were put in their place. The lesson was (obviously) that sex isn't all there is to life. Each character learns this in his own way, and the lesson was very cleverly and smoothly delivered. It was in no way corny, and that little bit of seriousness did not detract from the comedy's humor. Many comedies that try for a meaning cannot pull the serious-comedy thing off too well (if even at all), but American Pie did just that as smoothly as if the lesson wasn't even there. Very well done; bravo.
But let's not forget the actors. Most of the faces are unknown; you may remember Natasha Lyonne from The Slums of Beverly Hills, and you might also remember Thomas Ian Nicholas from The Rookie, but the rest just seemed to be a series of barely-glimpsed faces from previous unmemorable movies. However, this was one completely together cast. Jason Biggs played the part of a clutzy, confused virgin almost TOO well; Natasha Lyonne was a perfect sarcastic bitch; Thomas Ian Nicholas played the sex-driven maniac with the accuracy of an actual sex-driven maniac; and the rest of the cast delivered their roles (from the nerdy yet debonair Paul to the two-sided band nerd Michelle) with perfectly hilarious style.You want a real movie about teenagers, here you go. You won't find it in Can't Hardly Wait, and you sure as hell won't find it in She's All That or Kids. This is the real thing. We ALL know the taste of this pie, so enjoy!
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