US, 1999, 95 minutes, Colour.
Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Alyson Hannigan, Shannon Elizabeth, Tara Reid, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Seann William Scott, Eugene Levy, Natasha Lyonne, Mena Suvari, Jennifer Coolidge, Chris Owen.
Directed by Paul Weitz.
American Pie has become something of a classic comedy.It marks something of a watershed in teenage comedies and their playing with and exploring of sex themes and the loss of virginity. It struck a chord at the end of the 1990s, especially with younger audiences, and it led to 2 sequels as well as a reunion film a decade later.
The film focuses on a group of teenagers in the last year at high school, a group of young men, a group of young women. The young men are preoccupied with sex, with virginity, with losing their virginity before they end high school, with the prom and the prom night seeming an opportunity for this to happen – and their making a pact that it will happen. The reactions of the girls are mixed. one girl, Jessica, Natasha Lyonne, the open-minded about it all and giving advice to her friend, Vicki, Tara Reid, who wants to have loving sex with Kevin, Ian Thomas Nicholas. There is a nice quiet girl, Heather, Mena Suvari, who attracts the attention of Oz, Chris Klein, who joined the choir to find girls, but enjoys the singing and begins to fall in love with Heather. There is also the superior Finch, Eddie Kaye Thomas, who pays for stories to be spread about him but has no luck with women – but is subjected to a very humiliating diarrhoea sequence. He finishes up with Stiffler’s mother.
The star of the film is Jason Biggs, Jim, seen initially trying to masturbate to video pornography. later, he will have the famous masturbation in an apple pie sequence. In some ways he is gawky, very awkward with girls, especially Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) at a party, though later he will be involved with her, her coming to his home allegedly to study, the setting up a video camera with all his friends watching and her sexual behaviour as well as her asking him to do a striptease. After his failure, he encounters Michelle, Alyson Hannigan, the leader of a band who is famous for her way of speaking, always upward inflections and beginning stories, “one time…”.
There are a few scenes of classes. There are La Crosse matches. And there are parties, especially hosted by, Stiffler, Seann William Scott, whose mother is portrayed famously by Jennifer Coolidge, though she does not appear until the almost end of the film.
Many of the scenes are played for laughs, the best being those between Jim and his father, Eugene Levy, always trying to be helpful in educating his son, but somewhat self-conscious about it.
At the end of the 90s, while this film seemed to be rather permissive, it also seemed very crass – although some reviewers remarked that the main characters had moved morally to the better by the end of the film – though perhaps slightly. In fact, it ends with the main characters all involved in sexual encounters, the boys losing their virginity, and some of the girls entering into the experience more vigourously than we might have anticipated.
In retrospect, the film seems more moral or ethical than a number of the teen comedies of succeeding decades like, for example, those with from like Awkward moment, the Bad Neighbours films and Dirty Grandpa…