American Pie is a raunchy teen comedy following four high school friends as they quest to lose their virginity before prom night is over. The film centers on four boys – Jim (Jason Biggs), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Oz (Chris Klein) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) as they vow to engage in sexual activity before prom. All while detailing their over-the-top efforts in order to achieve their goal over the course of the film.
Director Paul Weitz and screenwriter Adam Herz have brought the characters to life in a way that is not only down to earth, but allows the entire ensemble to shine. The atmosphere is fun and highly entertaining which makes American Pie stand out as a charming coming of age movie for the late 90’s generation teenagers.
Sean-William Scott as the now infamous Steve Stifler is a stand out performance. Stifler’s character is an over-the-top jock and provides a hilarious counter to the boys’ naivety which lets the character stand out in the crowd.
Another mention for a stand out performance goes to Eugene Levy as Jim’s Dad. He provides scenes of embarrassing parental advice and outright cringe-worthy moments. More importantly though Jim’s Dad is a solid figure by which Jim is supported through his life. These two characters go hand-in-hand giving the disconnection from comedy that keeps the movie grounded and makes American Pie feel “real”.
The film progresses quickly with comedic sequences flowing at a steady pace. From toilet breaks, webcam antics to ‘warm apple pie’ with enough downtime to explore all of the characters in the American Pie universe. While they are all stereotypical teenagers, there is enough diversity between them. There is fantastic on-screen chemistry between the cast members to pass it off as a dysfunctional friend circle rather than a simple plot device of one group vs another – as seen in many other high school movies. This gives the viewer a ‘will they’, ‘won’t they’ sentiment as the film reaches its final act not just for the lead boys but the entire ensemble. The viewer wants to root for them all showing the success of in both screenplay and direction to bring the idea to life.
While American Pie is not a masterpiece of film making it is a very well-produced mainstream “coming-of-age” style teen comedy with a lot of heart and charm. This movie gave the 90’s generation the birth of a universe filled with laughter, fun and like-able characters that everyone can relate to. American Pie cements itself as a fantastic late 90’s teen comedy. One that stands out in the crowd of similar movies at the time.
The problem American Pie has is that like many movies of the generation, it’s filled with pop-culture that really sets it back. These references come across somewhat dated now but were a representation of the time American Pie was made. For example, although a fantastic soundtrack it is one filled with pop-punk from the era including a Blink 182 cameo.
The nostalgia factor is very high for this movie but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, in fact American Pie remains a talking point and favorite among circles of friends to this day despite being over 15 years old. With the recent addition of the latest installment ‘American Reunion’ it is a franchise that has staying power and will remain popular for generations to come.