One year after the prom-night misadventures immortalized American Pie, the entire gang has reunited for the summer. Now, an innocent-looking beach house will be transformed into the ultimate party central. Five guys will discover the powerful bonds of friendship… and Super Glue. Five girls will explore the mysteries of love… and the Rule of Three. And from late-night band camp encounters to some very accommodating next-door neighbors, this will be one summer vacation none of them will ever forget!
American Pie 2 7.0
eyelights: its ensemble cast. Stifler.
eyesores: its predictability. its over-abundant nods to the original.
“No matter what, times change, things are different. But the problem is, I don’t want them to be.”
‘American Pie 2’ is set one year after the events of the first movie. Jim, Kevin, Chris, Finch and Stifler are all going to the same college, and face the prospect of returning back home for the summer. Instead of staying put, however, they decide to rent out a fancy summer beach home and get a job as student painters to pay for it.
Naturally, they party and are on the make.
Released in 2001, two years after ‘American Pie’, the picture was an even greater success than its predecessor, though it was made on more than twice the money. And it’s hardly surprising: all the principal cast returns and the jokes are either references to or alternate versions of the original ones; it’s familiar enough for eager audiences.
Thankfully, the setting and context is different, which gives the illusion of something new. But, even more mercifully, the writing is much improved – trite though it may be, it’s not cringe-worthy. And the cast is actually much more consistent, with even Chris Klein and Tara Reid delivering tolerable performances this time around.
One notable exception: Shannon Elizabeth, as Nadia, who is actually even worse than in the first film. Unbelievable!
The strength of the picture, especially in comparison to the first, is that it develops a few relationships with more maturity: Kevin and Vicky struggle to be platonic friends one year later, but they eventually get the hang of it, and Jim actually sees past the luscious Nadia to see a soulmate in Michelle, the band camp geek from the first film.
These are not by any means new concepts, but the way that this was woven into the picture was nice – a bit contrived at times, granted, but, for a teen sex comedy, it was actually pretty smooth. I loved that they sent audiences the message that exes could remain friends, and I was very keen on the fact that Michelle was Jim’s “it” girl.
Beyond that, the characters haven’t changed much since high school: Jim’s still having a difficult time getting girls, Kevin is still stuck on Vicky, Chris is still seeing Heather (though long-distance), Finch is still exploring more sophisticated avenues (this time tantric sex and meditation) and Stifler is still a party monster and a goofball.
As they say, people never change. And, for the sake of the box office, they had better not.
Unfortunately, I didn’t laugh quite as hard as the first time I saw “American Pie’ – but it’s to be expected since a lot of it was already pretty familiar.
Here are some notable examples:
- In the opening sequence, before leaving for the summer, Jim and his co-ed dorm mate decide to have sex together. Unfortunately for them, they hadn’t banked on their parents arriving early – first Jim’s dad, and then her own. Oops.
Hit: Again, getting caught is a common experience (especially for Jim – see the opening sequence of ‘American Pie’)
Miss: It’s utter nonsense, evidently, because the friends would have done the naughty the night before – not right before being picked up.
- At Stifler’s first party, the party monster hooks up with a girl and they start getting frisky on a patio chair in his yard. She decides to break out the Champagne all over him from behind the chair. But then Sulu walks out onto the deck above, drops something on her head, knocking her out – and proceeds to urinate off the balcony onto Stifler. Stifler think it’s the girl covering him in bubbly and decides to shower in it – until he realizes that it isn’t what he thought it was. He walks into the house to add “I got peed on”. Subtle.
Hit: This is also a common experience too. What…? Not you? Wait, wait… why are you running away?
Miss: Just… no. Contrived to the max, stupid and completely unrealistic. It fails on all counts. But it’s meant to replace the scene in which Stifler, at his own party, swigs a beer with jizz in it while trying to seduce a girl.
- Jim goes to see Michelle at Band Camp, to find out from her if he’s as terrible a lover as he thinks he is. She tells him he’s terrible but not the worst she’s had. She has to run, but will be right back. However, since he’s not supposed to be there, she gives him camp clothes to go incognito. In a scene that echoes Jim’s public striptease in the first film, he then gets rounded up to perform a trombone solo in front of a crowd – after dying on stage for a few minutes, he throws caution to the wind and goofs off.
Hit: I love that Michelle was honest with him. And I laughed at the thought that she’s had worse (Ouch… poor girl…). I also love that Jim is being stupid but totally owns it this time.
Miss: So the band camp happens to be near the cottage they rented? Riiiiight. How convenient. And Jim can be mistaken for someone else, that person doesn’t show up for the performance, and no one knows any better? C’mon, pull the other one!
- The guys are busy painting a client’s house and Stifler is convinced that the two women are lesbians. Obsessed, he decides to break into the house for evidence to this effect – which he finds in the form of a dildo. Jim and Finch had followed him in to stop him, but the women return and the three are forced to hide. Meanwhile, Kevin and Chris stay in touch via walkie-talkie, which they use for their job. The guys eventually get caught and after Jim explains why they were there, the girls decide to mess with them, giving them what they want (i.e. caress and kiss each other), bit by bit – but only if the boys do the same in trade.
Hit: I loved that the guys were shown crossing the line in order to get the girls to act like lesbians; lesbian acts are chic, but gay acts are still uncommon – especially in 2001. Gay chic would be a nice counterpoint. Too bad it didn’t take hold. I also loved that Stifler eventually got into it, after some reticence, and was even willing to “take one for the team” – though he would have been the beneficiary. Too much!
Miss: Riiiiight… dildos are things that only lesbians have. And this kind of situation, in which people have to hide to avoid being found out, is so overdone that it has no comedic effect whatsoever. And it’s hard to believe that these guys would overcome their aversion to gay acts just to see girls do it. Plus it says a lot about their immaturity with respect to female sexuality – much like in Nadia’s solo bedroom scene in the first film.
- Jim returns to Michelle to ask for her guidance in becoming a better lover. She tries to coach him, late at night, in the music room, and, for all his ineptitude, is a patient teacher. The clincher: to relax him into the moment, she pops a trumpet in his butt – an obvious reference to her hilarious flute comment in the first one.
Hit: It’s a cute scene, but it’s the butt trumpet that does it – it’s so ridiculous and outrageous that it’s funny. Even better is when a camp councellor decides to come by for a late night trumpet practice…
Miss: It’s been done before and much better, and I highly doubt you can pop a trumpet in someone’s butt without forewarning and/or lube – and, if you can, then that’s something to think about.
- In a scene intended to outdo the apple pie incident, Jim’s been given lube by Stifler, but confuses it with the glue he’d been using to (poorly) fix the lamp on his side table. Naturally, his hand gets glued to his penis, and his other hand gets glued to a VHS tape he had been watching. Incapable of using his hands, he tries to clean it off, call for help, go out for paint thinner, and winds up on the roof, arrested by the police. Then his dad is called in to join him at the hospital. Ouch
Hit: They didn’t call the movie ‘American Glue’.
Miss: It’s $#!t situation that would never happen, plus it’s got stupid pratfalling, poor physical humour, contrived awkwardness, and it’s just not funny. All dumb, no fun.
The rest of the picture revolves around Nadia arriving early, before Jim’s healed from his self-inflicted penile wounds. He asks Michelle for advice and she offers to pretend to be his girlfriend for a few days and then “breaking up” at the big party, so that he can finally be with Nadia. A plan to which he naturally agrees.
And this is when they fall in love. But, when it comes time to break-up, Michelle is an utter pro, going through with it right in front of Nadia, all the while playing up Jim’s sexual abilities, saying that even though he’s amazing, the best ever, that she wouldn’t stand for his crap anymore. Wow, what a frickin’ trooper.
I wuv Michelle.
The ending is predictable, taking place at another of Stifler’s parties, but it wraps up really well anyway, leaving the audience satisfied with another ‘American Pie’ movie – but one with a slight progression and mild improvement. Which leaves me to conclude that ‘American Pie 2’ is a marginally better movie than the first.
Not great, but better.
Date of viewing: September 4, 2016