johnlink ranks AMERICAN PIE (1999)

It had been a long time since seeing this movie, one which is now considered somewhat of a landmark in R-rated comedy. ANIMAL HOUSE holds up to the passing of time, as does DAZED & CONFUSED. I was curious to see if this did as well, now that it is eleven years old.

I watched AMERICAN PIE (1999) on 2.14.10. It was my fourth or fifth viewing of the film, and my first since graduating high school. TRAILER HERE

There are scenes in this movie which still stand up. The pie scene from which the film garners its name is still the awkward, laugh out loud, sort of scene which makes for a classic. Unfortunately, I found that there weren’t enough of those sort of moments (and certainly not as many as my mind had thought there were). The opening scene feels tame now, as does the Nadia scene. Mildly funny, but nothing which had me waking my sleeping wife, who was next to me on the couch, with laughter.

A major part of the problem is Chris Klein as Oz. Some of the worst acting I’ve watched in a long, long time. It wouldn’t be bad if his character had some sort of range of emotion, but he talks like that the whole frickin movie. Add to that the fact that he is romantically linked to Mena Suvari, who may be the BEST actor in this thing, and the chemistry is barely north of zero. Also, surprisingly, this film was made before Tara Reid became a disaster. She’s okay in it. Potential wasted, I guess.

The script has moments of hilarity, and does its very best to capture the way teens talk and interact. This film certainly had an influence on me as a high school kid hoping to be a writer. But now, it feels a little dated. The dialogue which contemporaneously felt unbelievably honest now feels almost quaint. Yes, high school kids talk like that. Sort of. However, this film (like that show SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN TEEN) goes by the principle that if you use the word ‘sex’ six hundred times, then you have captured what it is to ‘speak high school’.

I do appreciate that the third act of this film tries to rectify some of the maliciousness of these characters. They find love, or get used, or get dumped preciesly because they are cookie cutter characters without a ton of depth. It’s at least satisfying to see them fulfill an arc, even if it is a simple arc.

Having watched this, I feel better about having recently seen CAN’T HARDLY WAIT. While that title is by no means a spectacular film, I still found myself enjoying it. Having now watched AMERICAN PIE, I can tell you that it isn’t a simple nostalgia. Something about the former film allows it to hold up, while the latter feels absolutely etched in the late 90s. I’m sure there are people who would disagree, but I’d watch CAN’T HARDLY WAIT again long before I watched AMERICAN PIE.



3+6+4+5+0= 18


~ by johnlink00 on February 14, 2010.

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