Film: American Pie

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Film:

American Pie

Director: Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Universal Studios

Anyone who’s watched just about any teenage film knows that the greatest evil in this world isn’t chemical warfare, ethnic cleansing, or even the nuclear bomb. The worst crime known to man? Why, virginity, of course. As we’ve learned from countless films—from Summer of ‘42 to Risky Business—virginity is a criminal burden that one must shed oneself of as quickly as possible. And while many of these films have given the topic a bad name, American Pie quietly sweeps in and gives sex some of its dignity back. Dignity, you may say? How can a film…

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Anyone who’s watched just about any teenage film knows that the greatest evil in this world isn’t chemical warfare, ethnic cleansing, or even the nuclear bomb. The worst crime known to man? Why, virginity, of course. As we’ve learned from countless films—from Summer of ‘42 to Risky Business—virginity is a criminal burden that one must shed oneself of as quickly as possible. And while many of these films have given the topic a bad name, American Pie quietly sweeps in and gives sex some of its dignity back. Dignity, you may say? How can a film that highlights intercourse with fruit pies, premature ejaculation broadcasted across the Internet, and the gratuitous “gross-out” shots restore the dignity of a genre that’s been encumbered with such heavyweights as Porky’s and Losin’ It? The plot may be typical, with four high school friends swearing to “score” by prom, yet the film rises above the muck with its superior cast, successful and sweet humor, and some actually rather retro values about the meaning and importance of sex. Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Eddie Kaye Thomas make up the odd quartet of pals determined to woo, lie, and beg their way to manhood. The young women they pursue are wary girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid), choir girl Heather (Mena Suvari), band geek Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), and just about any other female who is willing and able. Natasha Lyonne as Jessica, playing a similar role as in Slums of Beverly Hills, is the general adviser to the crowd (when Vicky tells her “I want it to be the right time, the right place,” Jessica responds, “It’s not a space shuttle launch, it’s sex“). The comedic timing hits the mark—especially in the deliberately awkward scenes between Jim (Biggs) and his father (Eugene Levy). And, of course, lessons are learned in this genuinely funny film, which will probably please the adult crowd even more than it will the teenage one. —Jenny Brown

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