In 1999 the mother of all teen comedy franchises began with American Pie which remains, to this day, at the top of the pile. Imitated countless times but never bettered, American Pie is the story of four high school friends who make a pact to have sex by the time their senior prom rolls round in three weeks. Each takes a different approach to getting laid, each with varying and hilarious results.
American Pie’s main character is Jim (Jason Biggs), a loveable guy who is completely hopeless with women and who despite being intelligent makes terrible decisions when it comes to anything sexual. The supporting cast are made up of Oz the likeable Jock, Kevin the bland also ran of the group who already has a long term girlfriend and Finch, the slightly unusual but highly intelligent one not prone to the failings of the other three.
In the run up to prom, they try various methods such as online dating, joining the school vocal group and paying someone to spread tall stories about their sexual prowess and eventually each one ends up with a date for the big night. Along the way amazing set pieces play out such as the titular pie scene in which Jim tests rather too literally Oz’s explanation that third base feels like warm apple pie. As ever, Jim’s dad is there in this most cringeworthy of moments to make you squirm as well as trying to breath in between laughing uncontrollably.
American Pie’s other great moments include a laxative incident involving Finch who ordinarily makes the 16 minute round trip home due to the school facilities not being up to standard, and Jim’s first sexual encounter with Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) the hot exchange student which goes as well as one might expect with the added bonus of being broadcast to the entire school via a webcam.
While American Pie’s main characters shine, it is two of the side characters that ultimately steal the show. Jim’s dad takes awkward to a whole new epic level and Oz’s lacrosse team mate Stifler (Seann William Scott) ends up being the best part of the whole franchise as possibly the most obnoxious and chauvinistic human being alive. Seeing him get his comeuppance in the form of a beer with some unwanted extras is a truly revolting but awesome set up, and well deserved.
Always treading the fine line between unnecessary gross out and being too unbelievable, American Pie nails the balance perfectly. It also has almost no down time in between each set up but weaves them together coherently so it doesn’t feel like set piece after set piece. This is where most films of this genre fall down, particularly those that are just aiming for cheap laughs. The other thing American Pie does better than most similar films is it makes you care about the fates of the characters. You are rooting for them all to get laid; the results of which in two cases are absolutely hilarious.
If ever there were any doubt as to whether American Pie deserves a five star rating, do not forget that the word MILF was created here. If ever there were a legacy a film can be proud of, it is surely that.