Mark Reviews Movies


3 Stars (out of 4)

Director: J.B. Rogers

Cast: Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas,

Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott

MPAA Rating: (for strong sexual content, crude humor, langauge and drinking)

Running Time: 1:40

Release Date: 8/10/01

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Review by Mark Dujsik

The first American Pie was the quintessential '90s teen sex comedy. It was good-natured and sweet (i.e., not mean nor cruel) and full of surprisingly funny toilet and sex gags that pushed many gross-out limits. Now, we live in the post-Freddy Got Fingered era where there are very few boundaries left to push. American Pie 2 may have shocked a year ago, but that should not dismiss the fact that this is a sequel that actually hits the same comedic notes as the original. The gags are rude and crude, but they never bail out in fear of offending, and frankly, it’s funny.

The movie picks up one year after the first one ended finding the entire gang just finishing their first year of college. Jim (Jason Biggs) is still as awkward with girls and sex as he ever was, and he still longs for the foreign-exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth). Oz (Chris Klein) and Heather (Mena Suvari) are still dating as she is preparing to study abroad for the summer. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is still pining over his ex-girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid), who dumped him after their first time. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is still lusting after Stifler’s mom, and Stifler (Seann William Scott) is still endearingly obnoxious. When the summer starts on a few down notes (mainly, a party is stopped by cops), Kevin gets an idea from his older brother to rent out a beach house with his friends for the summer and, before leaving for school, to have a big party. Nadia calls Jim before he leaves and tells him she’ll be back before the end of the summer. Jim decides to find out why he’s so bad at sex from the one person who would know—Michelle (Alyson Hannigan).

The movie simply moves along with a series of gags, and they are all quite funny. There’s one involving champagne, a kid relieving himself from a balcony, and perfect timing on the part of a falling object. Another gets most of the town involved in a quid quo pro of sexual favors over a CB radio and is in itself an interesting observation of the taboos society places upon certain activities. And, as if Jim hadn’t had enough embarrassment already, there’s a sequence highly reminiscent of the zipper-scene in There’s Something About Mary involving super-glue. Every available character is used for their comedic potential, but there are a few people left out of the mix. Kevin and Vicky’s rekindling friendship is put on the sides in quick flashes of them laughing or talking together, because the original movie essentially killed off any comedic possibilities for them. Oz and Heather are hardly present for jokes because the original placed their relationship on a sort of pedestal.

I had big problems with these turns in the first movie, because they implied that these characters were worthy of development beyond comedy. Near the end of American Pie, those two relationships were shown as "serious portrayals," and it was pretty embarrassing. What happened is that the movie forgot that these characters are types and not actual characters. We have no actual connection with them beyond the fact that they are broad portrayals of youth. American Pie 2 is not as guilty as the first one was in this department, but it still occasionally falters. There is one truthful moment like this, and it’s between Jim and his father (the hilarious Eugene Levy). It lasts a short second, but you’ll know when it happens. The movie states many times that these people are different, but we were never fully introduced to them as people in the first place. Any implication that there’s any kind of growth from the previous outing is reaching too high.

Still, American Pie 2 is sweet, crude, and funny. And just as I forgave the original for its major flaw, I’m happy to do the same for the sequel. The changes in character may come later if there are further installments, but right now, we’re just starting to get to know them.

Copyright © 2001 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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