Director: Joe Nussbaum
Cast: John White, Steve Talley, Jessy Schram, Jake Siegel, Ross Thomas and Eugene Levy
Plot: Erik Stifler (White) goes on a road trip to meet his cousin Dwight Stifler (Talley), torn between living up to the Stifler name or staying faithful to his girlfriend, Tracy (Schram).
American Pie was once the great teen comedy of the late 90s, easily capturing the teenage angst of losing your virginity and, at the same time, becoming the first gross-out comedy yet keeping it tasteful, a balance unable to be captured by several films hoping to become the successor to this successful series. Unfortunately, by the point of Naked Mile’s arrival to the series, even the franchise in question was failing to keep this balance. No longer were we following the beloved characters that made the first few films so great and no longer was the film about friendship, and more about getting laid no matter what.
The fifth film in the franchise finds a new set of characters to follow. At the helm is our typical social awkward teenage boy, the stock lead for the American Pie comedy. The twist here is that Erik is from the Stifler family, known as the party-hard jocks throughout the series. Constantly is his manhood being questioned, when all he wants to do is chill with his long-term girlfriend, Tracy. However, copying a storyline taken from Kevin in the first film, Tracy is taking her time with losing her virginity, meaning that Erik is at risk from going to college a virgin. And this is the first hurdle that the film trips at: the lead protagonist’s main dilemma is so selfish that it is hard to emphasise with him. Sure, there is nothing wrong with that storyline, but you need to build up a good character in Erik to bond with. This film is far too preoccupied getting to the next shot of boobs to do this.
This is the kind of film that can be as bad as he wants, because it is safe in the hands of a cult viewing. It shall be watched by teenagers wanting to see nudity and old fans wanting American Pie to rekindle that original glory. The film tries to be funny (and don’t get me wrong, it is pretty funny), but sometimes, the jokes come across as hollow, because the writers are 50% trying to make the audience laugh, but 50% trying to get some naked ladies onto the screen. It is ironic, because the funniest moment in the movie is the American football scene, where Stifler’s team get thrashed by a team of midgets. Not a naked girl in sight and it is as close to comedy gold as the film ever comes.
The spotlight of this film is kept on Dwight Stifler, replacing the great Seann William Scott. The writers are smart enough to try and create a different kind of Stifler. Steve Talley’s depiction of the character is the central lad on campus, everyone respects him and loves him, definitely unlike Steve Stifler’s creep in the first trilogy. The character does come across as quite hollow, compared to the old version, but Steve Talley holds it together with some great quotes. Half of the script is spent given Stifler the best lines and as an end result, he is left holding the film together. At the very least, his character makes the film watchable.
Later on in the film, the characters are all given love interests, although do not expect the same character depth as Michelle or Heather. These girls are pretty much just there to pair up with the male leads by the end of the film and are given very little to work with. It makes them come across as easy women, sure things, and they are pretty two-dimensional as characters. Even the sweet girl left at home, Tracy, can be quite tricky to emphasise with, as the actress struggles with a script that seems to be working against her. Luckily, her character is given the scapegoat of a bitchy friend to make her redeemable for every bad decision she makes during the film.
The film fails when it comes to characters, but at the very least, it builds up to a funny finale and has enough quotes and memorable scenes to be a pretty decent cult viewing. If you are expecting very little from the film, you can relax into it and find it an enjoyable watching. I recommend checking it out during a hangover, because it is easy to keep up with and might just cheer you up through that splitting headache.
Final verdict: A shadow of its former self, narrowly saved by a couple of good laughs.
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Lots of love, Luke ‘Wake Up in the morning feelin’ like P Diddy’ Abbott