A Porky's for the '90's? Although this raunchy but very funny
adolescent comedy explores problems of adolescent angst and the sexual
follies of youth, it does so with more honesty, intelligence, sympathy
and insight than one expects from a movie squarely aimed at the MTV
The plot centres around four high school seniors who make a
pact to lose their virginity by prom night - a mere three weeks away.
After all, if Sherman (Chris Owen, from the coming of age drama
October Sky), the school's biggest geek, can get laid, why can't these
four handsome studs? Although sex is the prime object of their quest,
the four lads end up discovering more important values, such as
friendship, honesty, and love, along the way.
The closest thing American Pie has to a central character is
Jim (Jason Biggs), who finds his sexual awakening has also become a
matter of major concern to his overly concerned father (a droll Eugene
Levy). Jim's stocks plunge to an all time low when his humiliating
attempt to seduce a foreign exchange student is broadcast to the
entire school body over the internet. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas)
finds his long-term relationship with Vicky (Tara Reid) threatened by
the sudden pressure to have sex. The hygiene-conscious Finch (Eddie
Kaye Thomas) circulates rumours concerning his sexual prowess in order
to make himself more appealing, but comes unstuck after an
embarrassing prank. Meanwhile Oz (Chris Klein) joins the singing club
to impress Heather (Mena Suvari), and ultimately finds he has to
choose between his jock friends and a chance at happiness with her.
American Pie thankfully avoids the cliché of having the prom night
become the climactic moment of the film, and opts for a far less
formulaic way of resolving its plot. The largely unknown cast throw
themselves into the material with enthusiasm, and their performances
bring the characters alive nicely.
First time film makers, writer Adam Herz and director Paul
Weitz, deliberately push the boundaries of good taste here, but
nowhere near as relentlessly as did the Farrelly brothers with last
year's enormously enjoyable but tasteless There's Something About
Mary. American Pie features some of the best, and grossest, visual
gags since Cameron Diaz tried out a new brand of hair gel, and should
prove a real winner with adolescent audiences.
This is essentially a bloke's movie, about secret men's
business and featuring plenty of locker room humour - but it's all
done with a modicum of sensitivity that, strangely enough, appeals to
broader audiences. At the preview I attended, teenage girls were
laughing just as hard as the guys, while many teenage boys were
shrinking with knowing embarrassment.
So, what's American Pie really like? Like warm apple pie,
Copyright © 2000 Greg King