American Pie (1999) starring Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, 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 Movie Review

American Pie (1999)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Jason Biggs as Jim Levenstein in American Pie

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Released back in 1999 "American Pie", the original in a long line of movies which if you include all of the "American Pie Presents ..." movies is now up to part 8 with American Reunion, is fundamentally an updated version of an 80s teen sex comedy. Take a group of high school boys all of which are taking their first steps into the world of relationships and then sit back and watch their haphazard attempts to basically get laid. "American Pie" is very much "Porky's" for the 90's although one which combines sexual comedy, with gross out comedy and surprisingly a slim moral message about love & sex. It's definitely entertainment of the simplest form and despite being over 10 years old is still remarkably funny and the best of the entire "American Pie" franchise.

Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) are best friends who make a deal that before they finish school they will all get laid; the difficult job is how to achieve this by prom night. Whilst sports jock Oz joins the choir to try and show a softer side and Kevin tries to coerce his girlfriend, Finch decides to spread generous rumours about himself and Jim, well Jim just has one disaster after another especially when it comes to Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth). Will the friends manage to loose their virginity in time? Or maybe they will learn something more important.

Jason Biggs and Shannon Elizabeth in American Pie

The plot to "American Pie" is not in the least bit complex, we have 4 characters all of whom want to have sex before they finish school. Yes in some ways this does relate to real life and harking back to my teenage years I can remember locker room conversations about who had done it, just maybe not as frank and open as those which are displayed in "American Pie". But then we don't really want reality we want exaggeration especially in this sort of teen comedy and "American Pie" does it brilliantly. It takes those situations and characters which we can relate to and embellishes them to make them laughable both for those who are going through similar situations and for those who are no longer teens but remember going through the exact same things.

Like its 80s predecessors "American Pie" uses nudity and the pit falls of first time sex as the basis for much of the comedy but it is also lewd, rude and crude relying heavily on a modern trend for gross-out comedy to deliver laughs. It broaches subjects that a few years prior to its release would not have passed for a certificate 15 movie but compared to today's current DVD releases feels a little tame. It's certainly a movie which appeals to a younger generation although some older audiences may find the humour a little too border line for their tastes as certain jokes can be a little disgusting in their juvenility, yes I am on about the combination of Stifler, beer and love juice.

Whilst the emphasis of "American Pie" is all about getting laid and being funny there is also an underlying message which attempts to show that sex is not the bee all and end all. This does give "American Pie" a bit of charm but in all honesty does little more than stop it from being just a poor excuse for bare naked flesh and over the top humour.

Where "American Pie" induces debate and will either make you love it or loathe it is over the humour which goes from sweet and charming through to complete and utter gross out. Now there is a lot of humour to be garnered from the subject of sex and the teenage exploration of the subject but I have to say at times "American Pie" goes too far. Watching Jim's embarrassment when messing up an opportunity to have sex with foreign exchange student Nadia is hilarious, even more so when he accidentally leaves his webcam on broadcasting it to all and sundry. But then when one character drinks a glass of beer spiked with love juice, it is not so funny, even a little disgusting and to be honest doesn't make you laugh but cringe, which I am sure is part of the desired effect. Would "American Pie" be so popular with out the gross-out moments, to be honest it wouldn't, it would be pretty much run of the mill teen fodder and pretty forgettable.

Without a doubt a huge reason for "American Pie" being such a success is in the characters and the cast who portray them. It has such a good variety of characters from geeks to jocks that you can easily associate them with those from your own school experiences. Of course these characters are slightly over the top, the geeks are even geekier than I remember whilst the sports jocks are definitely more confident but this makes the movie more than average. As for the cast, well whilst it may have helped launch the careers of several of the actors and actresses, such as Chris Klein, Tara Reid, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Seann William Scott the one real star of "American Pie" is Jason Biggs. Biggs manages to excel when it comes to embarrassing situations and provides the basis for the majority of the humour, but he is also hugely likeable. Which is a key factor with "American Pie"; all the characters are likeable in one way or another, even the intentionally obnoxious Stifler.

What this all boils down to is that "American Pie" is your basic teen sex comedy an update of the likes of "Porky's". It relies heavily on gross-out comedy as well as nudity but really doesn't do anything spectacularly new. But it is fun for those who are still in their formative years as well as grown ups who still enjoy a bit of adolescent frivolity. Why "American Pie" is so popular is purely down to it coming at the right time and pushing the boundaries of taste and why after several sequels and spin offs "American Reunion" will be hitting the big screen soon.