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American Pie
1999 - R - 95 Mins.
Director: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Producer: Chris Weitz
Written By: Adam Herz
Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Seann William Scott and Eugene Levy
Review by: John Ulmer
   
Characters can make or break a movie, and this goes especially for "American Pie," a rude, crude, and downright raunchy film that would probably be considered one of the worst of the decade if not for the film's obvious love of its characters and their shortcomings and exploits.

Some of the best of all comedies are so simply because they treat their characters with such loving affection - from works of comedy such as "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" to more dark and brooding comedies like "Fargo." Without love of characters there is a lack of respect, a film goes nowhere and an audience senses both and disregards it. A film like "American Pie" may not be the best of all films but I laughed, not so much at the gags but rather because the characters taking part in the gags seemed pretty darn infectious and sweet. Beneath the crudeness there's a heart - you just may have to dig through some waste to get there.

The film lacks the honesty and realism of teenagers that made John Hughes' 80s films so appealing to audiences - this is more or less a routine sex-and-prom teen comedy - but, like I said, the characters make up for this. It's about four graduating teenagers - Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott) - who make a pact to have sex by prom night. Bring the whole family to this one - you'll have a ball!

A pretty immature and borderline basic plot we have that is put to pretty good use through some crazy - though immature - antics. The title of the film is more than just a figure of speech. There's a scene where a foreign exchange student named Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth, not to be confused with Elizabeth Shannon of "Saturday Night Live") undresses in the Biggs character's room and *everything* is broadcasted across the Internet. I can't divulge into anything else because I'm writing for family websites. But let me say that if you think "Austin Powers" had a mouthful of innuendos, "American Pie" has that plus some. (It's sad to think that they had to guarantee an R-rating by inserting nudity and constant language - is the MPAA so ignorant that without nudity a film crammed with sexual innuendo like this would be PG-13?) We also get to learn the meaning of the word, "MILF."

I really can't say very much about this movie, or even go into its plot any further. All I can say is that I laughed. I liked the characters. I liked the innocence of blunders; that the characters often do things and humiliate themselves but not on purpose like in some comedies. But what holds me back from giving this a great rating is that the content is a bit too strong even for those 17, which the MPAA finds a suitable age to view this (it makes promiscuity seem all the more nerdy; the characters never consider the after effects of their night of passion). It is a very typical and cliched teen sex comedy, in a way, which holds back my rating a bit. It is a pretty funny film, no doubt, but the basis and outcome are both very typical. It makes one laugh while at the same time wishing Ferris Bueller - an intelligent, resourceful, sneaky teenager whose mind was not cliched and always focused on sex - would return. Where's John Hughes when you need him?
 
Movie Guru Rating
Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental. Entertaining and well crafted.  May not be worth the price of a theater ticket, but a solid rental.
  3.5 out of 5 stars

 
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