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American Pie 2

Dir: J.B.Rogers

Scr: Adam Herz

St: Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Chris Owen, Tara Reid

Fresh from freshman year the five feisty fella’s fancy a fine summer of frolicking and fun with any fit female that falls their way. So, no change there then. And what better plan to fulfil their libidinous excesses than at a holiday beach-home funded by daytime painting jobs? For Jim this is the ideal time to brush up on his love skills in anticipation of Nadia’s imminent return, skills which in the words of band camp veteran Michelle “suck”. Not that he is alone in his inexperience…

American Pie 2The first films combination of character driven plot mixed with gross-out sexual humour in the Porkys/Lemon Popsicle mould made it a surprise hit with not just audiences but critics as well. This despite the fact that awful direction and a fuddy-duddy set of cuts by the MPAA saw off any merits in the screenplay or performances. Second time around and once again the screenplay tries to have its pie and eat it by providing its sexism in the post-politically correct mode, only this time the direction is merely bland. Unfortunately this leaves American Pie 2 feeling like the aforementioned Lemon Popsicle films by way of Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy, another inexplicably critically lauded film that sledgehammers “soundness” under the guise of gross comedy. Indeed the debt to Smith is apparent in the numerous sf references in the dialogue, the beach scene love of Jaws and the Star Wars lines (“The force is strong in that one”). But there the similarity ends – Smiths films tend to favour discussion of acts while American Pie et al like to show them (as much as an R rating will allow).

Central to American Pie 2’s success is the characters and it is to the film’s credit that it manages to balance such a large central cast with apparent ease. Jim’s dad is back with his own special blend of liberalism and inappropriate fatherly monologues, Jim still has problems with his sex life, Stifler is still a total animal, Finch is still lusting after Stifler’s mum to the extent of honing his tantric skills to a fine art and so on. Everyone slips smoothly back into character as though they’ve never been away and there in lies the sequel problem – too much like the first and it’s a rehash, too little and you alienate the base audience. American Pie 2 relies too much on its previous outing to win over any new admirers; characters constantly refer to Jim’s webcast, Nadia, band camp, Stifler’s mum etc in what ultimately is nothing more than a time wasting nod-and-a-wink to the in-the-know. And then there are the money shots of gross-out that are the bread and butter of the modern youth comedy. American Pie 2 has its fair share of these and a number are wince inducing in the way they are so painfully drawn out, most notably in the scene where three of the gang are playing an escalating game of sexual humiliation with two “possible lesbians” whose house they have broken into – a Chasing Amy style debunking of male fears/desires about homosexuality sadly thumped with all the subtlety of its inspiration. Just as cringe inducing, though far more enjoyable, is when Jim mistakes super glue for lubricant and is accosted by the police with a porno vid stuck to one hand and his member in the other.

In the final analysis American Pie 2 works far better as a feel good character drama than it does as a comedy with some of the funnier moments coming from small throw-away little incidents than the oft-touted set pieces. It’s not art, it’s not actually that good, it’s not all that funny but somehow it works adequately under the circumstances and is for the moment superior to its peers (Scary Movie , Road Trip et al). Either go out and see it with some tanked up student mates or wait for it to turn up on tele.