A long, long time ago, I can still remember how those movies use to make me smile. Well, it wasn’t that long ago; thirteen years to be exact. I was eighteen years old when American Pie (1999) was released, the same age as Jim, Stifler and the rest of the East Great Falls High School class of ‘99. As such I almost felt part of the gang. It was the American equivalent of my own last days of secondary school, only it looked a lot more fun. With American Reunion (2012) gathering the full cast back together after a ten-year hiatus, there was no better time to undertake an American Pie movie marathon and revisit with my fellow thirty somethings to see if their lives had panned out any better or worse than mine.
At three o’clock on the dot we slotted the first movie, Paul Weitz’s American Pie into the dvd player and settled in for a walk down memory lane. Adam Herz’s script was originally titled Untitled Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made For Under $10 Million That Most Readers Will Probably Hate But I Think You Will Love. With such a self-assured moniker it wasn’t long before studios showed interest, with Universal eventually winning the bidding war. Thirteen years on, what is now depressingly apparent is how much the film has aged. Its predecessors, the likes of Porkys (1982) and Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982), were like movies from another time when I watched them growing up. But it now dawned on me that this is probably how kids view American Pie today, a funny film from a bygone era. It’s the small things that give the game away; Blink 182 and Third Eye Blind on the soundtrack, Oz’s disastrous looking floppy-fringed haircut, Jim’s giant beige PC, Tara Reid trying to pretend she’s a virgin. How times change. The laughs remain though and the high points have become folklore, notably Jason Biggs’ apple pie pounding and impromptu dance for exotic love interest Nadia.
Getting our American on to kick start the marathon
American Pie 2 (2001) quickly followed, and my first comment on that movie remains the same today as it was back then; I want to own that beach house. Wonderful real estate aside, the second slice of pie, like the first, is still a solid watch. Thomas Ian Nicholas’ Kevin remains the biggest wet blanket in cinema history and Eddie Kaye Thomas’ Finch becomes too arrogantly aloof, but Jim’s antics "I’ve glued myself to…myself” and Stifler’s enthusiasm "Dildo, dildo!” keep the film on track. A good old fashioned cinematic house party, complete with obligatory extras who can’t dance and strip poker game, rounds things off nicely and we’re all pleased to see Jim and Michelle finally hook up. Surely, a quirky movie couple tailor made for each other.
Up close and personal with the pie
Chris Klein decided to move on from the franchise with part three American Pie: The Wedding (2003) and conventional wisdom says this was probably a wise move. But American Pie is not a conventional franchise. Part three’s wedding scenario allowed for fresh mishaps and a whole lot more interaction between Jim and Eugene Levy as Jim’s father Noah Levenstein, who runs Sean William Scott close as the star of the franchise (oddly, for the second movie Bill Paxton was cast as Stifler’s father, but had to pullout of the project due to other commitments – the role went to Chris Penn but his scenes were eventually cut). Stifler still has his moments though, the highlights third time round being a character swap with straight arrow Finch, and a gay dance-off for the ages. The only downside is Stifler’s growing penchant for gurning and laughing like a chipmunk, both traits the franchise could well do without. With Tara Reid also hitting the road Nicholas had nothing to do but cement Kevin’s reputation as the most punchable movie character of all time.
Stifler pulls a Pink Flamingo
The first three American Pie movies did solid business at the box office thanks to a large fanbase and modest production costs. The series thus took a side step into direct-to-video territory with a number of inferior spinoffs, American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005), American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile (2006), American Pie Presents: Beta House (2007) and American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009). For the sake of our sanity we decided to avoid these low rent hangers-on, notable only for the continued presence of the wonderful Eugene Levy.
Stifler grabs a palmful
Skipping forward almost ten years we capped off our American Pie marathon with the recently released American Reunion (2012). What was most interesting was seeing the full cast back on the screen after so many years absence. The only star we’d seen in the interim was Sean William Scott (Stifler) and he looked almost unchanged since Pie’s 1999 debut. Thomas (Finch) and Biggs (Jim) looked more or less the same apart from some middle-age face weight, while Klein (Oz) had become an Arnold Schwarzenegger clone thanks to a much-improved haircut. Nicholas’ Kevin had grown some facial hair, but this made little difference; I still wanted him to die in a pre-credit pie-choking incident. Alas, the front lawn fist fight two thirds of the way through the film misses out on a prime opportunity to deliver Kevin a much deserved punch to the bollocks. The where-are-they-now story is fairly run of the mill, with Jim and Michelle experiencing marital problems in the bedroom, Finch pretending to be a well travelled renaissance man, Oz still pining after his high school sweetheart and Stifler being stifled by the reality of grown-up life. There are still plenty of laughs though, as well as the welcome trademark displays of boobage. Its also oddly warming to catch up with these old friends, much like it is for Jim and the gang when they reminisce on times gone by. Even more of the cast return for the high school reunion finale including a remarkable transformation for the Sherminator and a still smoking hot Nadia with Jim-alike in tow.
Ready to tuck into our third slice of pie
Our American Pie four film marathon was the easiest one yet. As we feasted on apple pie and ice-cream the movies flew by, thanks to their reasonable running time and effortless watchability; you don’t need that many brain cells to process a Pie film, but that’s no bad thing. As we sat and watched the American Reunion deleted scenes (including American footballer Chad "Ochocinco” Johnson subtly pointing out the lack of African Americans in the series) we decided it was time to turn the heat up on our movie marathons. As enjoyable as they were we needed a much tougher task than four easily digestible slices of pie.