American Pie 2
review by Gregory Avery, 17 August 2001

Almost twenty years after the release of Porky's -- and over twenty years since the box-office bonanza of "Friday the 13th" -- people have suddenly discovered that -- gasp! -- Hollywood has been selling sex and violence to teenagers. Thus, the new ads for American Pie 2 are much less luridly suggestive than those for its 1999 predecessor. The new movie's ads show the main characters all pictured together, simply, in a group, giving the impression that the film is a warm and funny look at the lives of family and friends. The accompanying ad line about "sticking together" does not take on ironic proportions until after you've bought your ticket and gotten into the flick.

After spending the first half-hour making nothing but references to what went on in the earlier film, most of the action in American Pie 2 turns out to be set at that old standby, the Beach House by the Lake during Summer Vacation. Jim (Jason Biggs) gets postcards from exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) telling him that she is anticipating having another visit with him at a later date. Since Jim failed to make a perfect union with Nadia in the last movie, he turns again to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), the seemingly goofy girl who turns out to be smarter than she looks and knows everything about The Subject, and is happy to offer some help to Jim, seeing as she's attending music camp right next door to the Beach House by the Lake. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has taken up the study of Tantric meditation prior to having a second go-around with the woman of his dreams (who happens to be the mother of one of the guys he's living with). And Stifler (Seann William Scott, who aggressively attacks his role and is aggressively unfunny) reveals that he has a younger brother (Eli Marienthal, listed in the credits only as "Stifler's Brother") who is as much of a contemptible bore as Stifler himself is. Some of the other returning characters are barely in the movie, such as Thomas Ian Nicholas' Kevin, and Chris Klein and Mena Suvari, who are still boyfriend-girlfriend, here, with the exception that Suvari's character spends almost the entire film gallivanting around overseas. (Suvari appears about four or five times during the course of the action, tops.)

Opting for a more loosely organized tone, the film -- directed by J.B. Rogers (who earlier helmed the ghastly Say It Isn't So) from a script by Adam Herz (sample dialogue: "Holy s**t, there's a dildo in my drawer!"), who also wrote the 1999 film -- doesn't so much have a story as simply mosey from one bit to another, as if it were loading its plate at a buffet. What's annoying and tiresome, though, is not the lax plot or the continual emphasis on sex, but the way the film keeps dumping on its characters and then hanging them out to dry. In one scene, Jim gets stuck to himself when he accidentally uses Krazy-glue instead of a lubricant jelly. Rather than call on his friends for help (which would have made the scene more funnier), the film sends him flailing away on his own until he's caught, naked, in the crosslights of a police car. This is usually the type of thing you see done in a movie to a character for whom you are not rooting, but Jim is supposed to be the main protagonist. There is also the two-girls-whom-the-guys-think-are-Lesbians who say they'll do anything the guys ask them to do in exchange for the guys doing something the girls ask them to do, first: the guys don't catch on for ages that they're being made fools of, and on top of that everyone is listening in to their antics over the local short wave radio band (a copy of the Internet video gag in the 1999 film). Another scene shows one character being drenched with what he thinks is champagne but is actually something else. All of these scenes lack a punch line that would take the callous edge off of them.

There are a couple of instances where the movie actually works: When Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan's characters suddenly realize whom they are actually supposed to be with; Eddie Kaye Thomas lowering his eyelids and looking and sounding like the suave James Shigeta when his character speaks about how he's channeling his energies for the sake of his "goddess"; and some fairly miraculous work from Eugene Levy, again appearing as Jim's dad, and who finds precise ways to keep his character from turning foolish and risible while awkwardly trying to guide and support his son through the pangs of maturity.

When all is said and done, the guys -- four of them, anyway -- decide that it's time that they move on from what they've been doing -- peeping up girls' skirts, renting porn videos -- to other, more mature things. This occurs at the end of the movie, after much peeping and renting has been done. Actually, American Pie 2 does not look poised to cause serious damage to the moral fiber of our younger generation, but rather it will probably flit in and out of the national consciousness faster than you can say, "What do you have for desert?"

Directed by:
J.B. Rogers

Starring:
Jason Biggs
Eddie Kaye Thomas
Chris Klein
Seann William Thomas
Thomas Ian Nicholas
Alyson Hannigan
Shannon Elizabeth
Mena Suvari
ugene Levy

Written by:
Adam Herz

Rated:
R - Restricted
Under 17 requires
accompanying
parent or adult
guardian.

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