What to do while watching:
What to eat while watching:
It's confounding trying to sort out my emotions around American Pie. In fact, I'd rather not review it, but have some youthful relative do it for me, like when The Filthy Critic got his nephew to review The Matrix. That was well played. But it is a hot new-ish release, and I have no nephew.
I will grant that I found Pie entertaining, but as much I was entertained, I was also turned off. A high-school sex comedy, this movie openly depicts teenage frolic and drunkenness with a style of humor that I had my fill of during my own high school days thanks to Porky's, Porky's 2, and Porky's 3. This movie was speaking directly to a demographic that no longer includes me, so I felt like the inappropriate interloper in a private conversation.
Pie is the story of four male high school friends, an unlikely quartet consisting of a gentle but awkward Jewish guy, a sensitive jock, a pretentious wanker-geek type, and a normal cool guy. The three other members of my high-school gang were all unthreatening, brainy squares--just like me--but, never mind that. This film is clearly going for a cross-section view of high school life. The attempt is made clear by the call-out to Breakfast Club: a cover band does Simple Minds' "Don't You Forget (About Me)."
With only a few weeks to prom night, these four young men take the vow to leave the unpleasant land of virginity for the greener pastures of sexual adulthood, that singular vow that young men have made throughout history to pop their cherries good and proper and with all expediency.
Each develops a strategy and undertakes courtship rituals including, but not limited to: dating, learning how to perform oral sex, broadcasting sex over the Internet, and bribing a girl to scrawl flattering graffiti in the girl's restroom. There is a gymnasium-full of wackiness in and among these adventures, and in the end things turn out just dandy for everyone. As anyone over 19 would expect, the four friends come to learn that getting laid isn't the be all and end all of their lives. At the end of the movie, both virgins and non-virgins alike understand that it's the relationship, the communication, and the respect that count.
There are certainly funny scenes. My favorites were those with Eugene Levy, who, along with Joe Flaherty, is one of the most underused comedians around. However this joke--the father walking in on his sexually compromised son--was way overplayed. I think there were some other funny scenes in there too, mostly of the high-school prank and drunken high jinks varieties, but these will appeal mostly to people about half my age.
There are also decidedly sexy scenes. It felt strange to me to be a man in his 30's watching a film that encourages me to lust after three high school girls. As a male, I identify marginally with the male characters. As a virgin at the time of my high school graduation, I can relate to their predicament and their quest. But to relate to them means that I'm encouraged to feel what they're feeling: lust for high school girls. And for me, that was not a comfortable feeling. (As Jon Spencer says: "I want a full-grown woman!")
I was a little perturbed that high school is shown as being so sexy. My experience wasn't anything like that. Notwithstanding my own geekhood, I had a fair share of necking and heavy petting in high school, but it didn't look anything like this. If this film is an accurate reflection of what high school today is like, then I am confronted with the fact that kids grow up even faster today than they did in my day. Sure everyone knows this as a platitude, but confront it as a reality, fellow "grown-ups," and see if it doesn't discombobulate. Did you have that much sexual savvy as a high schooler? Maybe you did. If so, why didn't you call me?
Or maybe this movie is a fantasy flick. Here's where it diverges so sharply from Breakfast Club, which aimed at a realistic portrayal of the stereotypical high school types. Maybe all of Pie is just as mythical as the secret book of sexual lore that turns up in the movie.
Do I recommend seeing it? Like I say, I'm confounded. I wanted to see
it to see what the youth of today is up to. What they appear to be up to
looks fun, but I don't at all feel a part of it, and I'm certainly not convinced
that the portrayal is accurate--which means I didn't get from this film
what I was looking for. If I were the youth of today, I would think this
is the best movie I'd seen, particularly as a male. I would imagine that
this film would follow me into adulthood and be part of my personal mythology
and that of my peers. I'd often masturbate thinking about certain scenes
in it. So perhaps that's what the youth of today is up to: fantasizing about
the world as an imitation of American Pie.
©1999 by Randy Shandis Enterprises. All rights happily reserved.