American Pie is 20 years old today. That’s absurd to think that so much time has passed. Most of us watched it brand new when we were also in high school, graduating, or just entering our twenties. Two decades later we’ve grown up, got married, had kids, accumulated too much interest. Now what was once the tentpole (with a sock covering it) movie of a generation becomes a joke that no one is laughing at.
If, like me, you haven’t watched this movie since it became illegal to smoke inside bars allow me to refresh your memory. Jim (Jason Biggs) and his male friends are all virgins in their senior year of high school. The peer pressures of life in the mid to late ’90s tells them that they are failures and less of men if they graduate without the honor. Through a series of misunderstandings, missions, and misogyny all four friends end up losing their virginity during the after-prom party in a variety of events.
It’s… It’s a product of its time. One of the biggest is, of course, the outright violation of Nadia’s (Shannon Elizabeth) privacy as she strips in Jim’s bedroom and unknowingly shows the entire school that there is no iron carpet behind her iron curtains. For the modern day #MeToo movement alone this scene would most likely be pulled today.
In 2019 though, the entire movie plays as a self-centered young boy/man ego play. I want to get laid, screw anyone else’s feelings. Especially the woman I want/need there. This is about me. Three of the four girls (I can’t call all of them girlfriends) are ultimately one dimensional. The entire plot is about having sex for the first time and the women who will be there with them are deemed unimportant. Viewers aren’t able to empathize with what any of these girls/women are going through because there is no character development for them. It’s not about you, it’s about me. The funny thing is the most well rounded female character in the movie is played by Tara Reid. The actress that became a punchline and then a Sharknado protagonist is the most fleshed (pun not intended) woman in the film.
Now, maybe I’m being too hard on a movie marketed off of carnal knowledge of pastries. I will acknowledge that the initial viewing of this movie with little to no knowledge going in will lead to hilarity. It is the iconic 1990’s teen sex comedy with moments resonate for an entire generation. Much like Porky’s, Fast Times, or Superbad. Also much like all of those films if you didn’t experience that movie brand new at a specific age they don’t matter. If you disagree, when was the last time you watched any of those movies? I thought American Pie was great at 21 but until this week I don’t think I’ve watched the movie in at least 15 years if not more. And this is probably the last time I’m watching it.
American Pie is that kid from high school that never grew up. Hey, I wanted to go party and chase girls and have crazy stories when I was 18 too. Then we all grew up. Found someone to live with. Found more important things in life to focus on. There is a difference between having a life and having a night. Between having an anecdote and having a story. Going back to your old stomping grounds and seeing that same kid from high school on the same stool at the same bar isn’t fun. It’s sad.
Sometimes it’s not worth going back for a second slice.