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American Pie 2: The Review

Director: James B. Rogers

Cast: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Chris Klein, Tara Reid, Shannon Elizabeth, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Mena Suvari, Natasha Lyonne and Eugene Levy

Plot: Frustrated that their lives haven’t quite blossomed since losing their virginity, the old gang decide to have the party to end all parties at a beach house.

Comedy sequels are arguably the worst sub-genre of movies. Comedy in itself is a pretty difficult animal to tame, humour being largely subjected. Almost every comedy movie out there hangs in the balance of ‘is this funny or not?’ When a comedy as successful as… well, American Pie… hits home with a perfect score, there is the sense that it could just have easily gone south. What if the ‘having sex with an apple pie’ joke or ‘jizz in a cup’ scene were not seen as the height of 90s comedy, but a disgusting misuse of bodily fluids? So if the original movie could be argued to be a stab in the dark that luckily hit the funny bone, the fact remains that lightning hardly ever strikes twice in the same place. How does one capture the same sense of fun and humour? Therefore, it is normal to feel slightly wary stepping into the sequel to one of the biggest teen hits of the 90s.

The plot almost sounds like a misfire in itself. Frustrated at the facts their lives aren’t instantly full of sex and partying now that their cherry has been popped, the four old leads (with an even better Steve Stiffler in tow), hire a beach house miles away from college and plan to end the summer with the party of all parties. It sounds… well, awful. While the first movie was about teenagers finding their feet sexually in the wilderness of high school, this one was simply about perfecting an evening of getting blind drunk, while crossing their fingers that there might be some sex at the end of it. It sounds like a terrible misfire from the new director, almost as though he is making the mistakes of the teen movie genre that the first smartly avoided. But, fear not, because the screenwriter, Adam Herz, is firmly in control and his script is just as heart-felt and precise as it was last time around. Remember the original hardly had the beginnings of a smart plot, with their leads wanting to get girls into bed and the rest of the story being, fairly, side-lined. In fact, like the first one, in having a totally generic and dull premise, the characterisation has space to breathe. While the ultimate party is being set-up, Herz uses the build-up to explore the great characters who wrote up the last time around. He questions what has happened to them in the year since we last saw them. I love the idea that they are just as hopeless when it comes to ladies as ever, losing their virginity not the solution that they thought it was. This is true of real life: sex doesn’t instantly teach everyone the ways of the world. Therefore, we could go as far to argue that the character arcs are even more intelligent and deeper this time around.

Kevin has broken up with his girl from the last movie and is adamant that he has been having a full-functioned sex life in the meantime. However, the truth is that he is still yearning for his ex. As with the original movie, Kevin’s suggestion for the group’s activities often has a far more personal meaning that his three pals cotton onto and it is no different here. He wants the party of all parties to make a public statement that he doesn’t even remember nor need Tara Reid’s Vicki, hopefully finding a new girlfriend to take his mind off of things. Of course, before long, Vicki shows up at the summer party, Kevin’s plans coming crashing to a halt, so the party becomes the last place on earth he wants to be. Jim is just in a bad way as before. Suffering from a year’s gap since his last sexual encounter, Jim hits home when he gets a call from Nadia, the girl he almost got with last year. However, as the moment draws nearer, Jim starts over-thinking sex, a mistake most teenagers make. On top of several amusing tricks he attempts to get better in bed (think super glue), he ends up seeking out Michelle, Alyson Hannigan’s closet sex pest who is currently in band camp. Finch tries his hand at tantric sex, claiming that he is the one out of the group to discover what it takes to be experienced at sex, which is most likely a bunch of teenage lies. Oz is actually still in a relationship, but it has evolved into a long distance affair, something he is struggling with. Chris Klein and Mena Suvari sadly suffer with the weakest sub-plot and it is the one part of the sequel that you partially wish wasn’t there. A disappointing low point to the series and probably the first of many road bumps the franchise hits. But, then there is Seann William Scott’s Stiffler who is, once again, totally devoid of a storyline, simply being dumped into the middle of this teenage angst and allowed to cause chaos, the character much more finely-tuned, since the first one.

These stories are once again filled with heart. Sure, the first half of the film feels a little astray. It takes a while longer for the emotion to kick in this time around. American Pie 2 does give off the impression that it is little more than another teen movie, just one with fully-formed characters holding the clichéd script up. There is a funny scene where the gang are caught breaking into two lesbian’s house and while it causes laughs, they are slightly uncomfortable, as if you aren’t quite sure why it is working as well as it is. Again, Jim poses as an autistic trombone player to get closer to Michelle and while it hits the same cringe-worthiness of the webcam debacle, it feels a little less tasteful, as if in making the sequel bigger and better, some of the balance as veered too far in the wrong direction. However, as I said, as the climax of the movie comes closer, the old American Pie rears its head. The character arcs are tied up, the original lovingly replicates certain trademarks from the last movie and it begins to feel like the comedy we lost our American Pire virginity to.

Final Verdict: Yes, this one is the dumber of the two, but it is charming enough to earn forgiveness.

Four Stars