AMERICAN PIE, the Animal House for a new, equally sex-driven generation who could relate, was a smash hit in 1999, the 20th most popular flick of the year. Directed by Paul Weitz, shrewdly kept to a brisk 95 minutes, it was written by Adam Herz, based on his high school servitide in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. His first screenplay, it sold for $650,000. He’s the son of a brain surgeon, which I find not just funny but somehow fitting. Made for $11,000,000, the brazenly gross yet essentially good-natured frivolity minted back $102,561,000, with another $132,922,000 from international audiences, curious about American teens sex needs. Not sated, fans went back for more and shelled out $109,577,000 on discs to bake at home. *
“Hey, Stifler, how’s the “Pale Ale“?”
Four buddies, high-school seniors, labor under the hormonal anxiety and ego-shame of virginity, and pledge to end the testosterone torment on the night of their senior prom. Awkward and nerdy ‘Jim’ (Jason Biggs) has already humiliated himself by pre-erupting—twice—with Czech foreign exchange bombshell ‘Nadia’ (Shannon Elizabeth) while much of the school eavesdrops via webcam, but maybe flute geek ‘Michelle’ (Alison Hannigan) will lend a hand (or something), if she will shut up about “this one time, at band camp“. Handsome lacrosse jock ‘Oz’ (Chris Klein) joins choir to catch pretty and sincere ‘Heather’ (Mena Suvari), and mastermind ‘Kevin’ (Thomas Ian Nicholas) uses a legendary carnal-tips book to work ecstatic magic on oh-so O-ready girlfriend ‘Vicky’ (Tara Reid). Budding sophisticate ‘Finch’ (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has some setbacks, but they’re rectified when he plays serious pool with ‘Stiffler’s mom’ (Jennifer Coolidge). ‘Stifler’ himself (Seean William Scott) offers unsolicited advice, as does Jim’s hopefully helpful father (Eugene Levy).
The assorted embarrassing situations register laughs because they’re not mean-spirited, and the cast is quite likable. Biggs, Hannigan, Thomas, Coolidge and Scott score best, and let’s not leave out Eli Marienthal as Stifler’s kid brother.
An excellent rack of tunes decorates the soundtrack. Forget the apple pie: you’ll never think of flutes in the same way again. With Natasha Lyonne (proof God exists and doesn’t know you do), Chris Owen, Lawrence Pressman, Casey Affleck, Clyde Kusatsu, John Cho, Sasha Barrese, Christina Milian, Stacy Fuson.
“I never did it with baked goods, but you know your uncle Mort, he pets the one-eyed snake 5-6 times a day.”
* The huge success of this crowd-pleaser tended to overshadow the year’s other good, considerably smarter, high school comedy, Election. Success cooked three sequels, all of them hits at the boxoffice: American Pie 2 in 2001, American Wedding in 2003 and American Reunion in 2012. Then came five direct-to-DVD spinoffs with the moniker American Pie Presents:—Band Camp, The Naked Mile, Beta House, The Book Of Love and Girl’s Rules. The first three generate laughs, but before you put a finger—or whatever comes to mind—in any of those last five pies, remember you get what you pay for.