Back-To-School Month: "American Pie" Review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

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Back-To-School Month: "American Pie" Review

Rating: R
Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: July 9, 1999
Directed by: Paul Weitz
Genre: Comedy/Romance

"American Pie" burst onto the scene shortly after movies like "There's Something About Mary" began introducing adult topics into teen comedies. Directed by Paul Weitz, "American Pie" follows the journey of four high school boys who vow to become more interactive with their female counterparts before they graduate. As the boys fumble, as teens often do, it is obvious that they aren't in on the joke.

The four teens in question are quite different from each other. Jim (Jason Biggs) thinks about girls constantly and is probably the most determined out of the group to be a hit with the women. Although he practices his techniques in the privacy of his home, he is often unwittingly interrupted by his father (Eugene Levy) who seems determined to school his son on the birds and the bees.

Oz (Chris Klein) is the quintessential jock. Although he is the handsome hunk of the group and the star of the school's lacrosse team, he is completely ignorant when it comes to women. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is the bookish nerd, and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has a girlfriend, Vicky (Tara Reid), but is determined to become more intimate with her.

Prom night is coming up; the night when all four boys have made a pact that they will go all the way with the girls of their dreams. Unfortunately for Kevin, Vicky believes he is only with her for physical reasons, and he knows that the only way for him to succeed in his goal is to fix his relationship with her prior to the prom. Meanwhile, Oz joins the choir and falls in love with Heather (Mena Suvari), although she knows of his reputation and wants nothing to do with him.

Jim has set his sights on Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), a Slovakian exchange student who has asked Jim to tutor her in English. Jim inadvertently leaves his webcam going during an intimate moment with Nadia, broadcasting the whole episode across the Internet. Her exchange family sees the video and sends her back home, leaving Jim dateless right before the prom. He eventually finds a girl, Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan), who did not see the video, and he asks her to be his date for the big night.

Finch takes the easy way out and pays Jessica (Natasha Lyonne) a handsome sum of money to spread rumors about his prowess around the school in the hope that it will peak the girls' interests. A beleaguered lacrosse player, Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott), who lost a prom date when Finch double crossed him, puts all hope of Finch finding a prom date to rest.

When prom night rolls around, all of the boys meet their goals, making the pact a success. While the evening didn't go exactly as planned, the boys each wound up calling prom night a success.

"American Pie" was a hit at the box office, eventually bringing in more than $235 million in international ticket sales. It has also grossed close to $133 million in home video rentals. Although it received mixed reviews from the critics, the film went on to win six awards, including a Blockbuster Entertainment award, and an additional five nominations.

The film was perfectly cast with a group of young actors and actresses who were just cutting their teeth in Hollywood. After the movie was released, Jason Biggs went on to star in a number of comedies, including "Saving Silverman," "Prozac Nation," and "Jersey Girls." Chris Klein dabbled in a few different genres after filming, including roles in "Rollerball," "The Good Life," and "Caught in the Crossfire."

Thomas Ian Nicholas was the veteran coming into the movie, and his career became even more successful after shooting wrapped. He went on to lucrative roles in films such as "The Rules of Attraction," "Sherman's Way," and "Delivering the Goods." Eddie Kay Thomas went on to star in a number of movies and television series, including "Off Centre," "'Til Death," and "American Dad!"

"American Pie" has become a classic teen coming-of-age movie, and it is a particular favorite of those who were intheir late teens and early 20s when the film was released. As is the case with many of today's teen comedies, "American Pie" is filled with gross-out jokes and bathroom humor that are not for the faint at heart. Most audiences are able to see past the vulgarity and the sexual innuendo and instead focus on the hilarious angst the teens suffer on their way to becoming adults. This movie is a must-see, lighthearted comedy.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5