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American Pie (1999)
Rated R

Starring: Chris Klein, Jason Biggs, and Eddie Kaye Thomas

Rating:
****
out of
*****

Continuing this summer's "films that provide shock value with a message" trend is American Pie. Like it's compatriot South Park, American Pie provides a valiant point masked with toilet humor. American Pie is funny and intelligent, but you'd never expect that based on first impressions, especially with this film's ad campaign involving a pie.

The film begins with a quartet of teenage boys making a pact to lose their virginity by the time their senior prom rolls around. The catch? The prom is three weeks away and only one of the guys has a girlfriend. The film follows the exploits of these somewhat awkward, but mostly endearing boys as they struggle to figure out how to accomplish their task without seeming desperate, inexperienced or uncool.

Oz (Chris Klein) is the token jock of the group. He "works the sensitive angle" by joining the high school choir, which he feels is an "untapped resource" for women. Fitch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has found a unique way to bolster his reputation as the "big man on campus." Jim (Jason Biggs) is afraid to talk to a girl, much less do anything else. However he has his sites on Nadia, a foreign exchange student, who asks him to help her study.

Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has a girlfriend, and she's even told him that she loves him, but he doesn't feel right about the whole situation. He wants sex, or thinks so, but she wants everything to be perfect before they "do it."

At face value, this sounds like every inept teen sex comedy that's been released since Animal House was crowned the champion of this genre in 1978. The main problem with most of the films that followed Animal House is that they provided the sex and forgot the comedy, replacing it with the gross-out factor instead. American Pie has a high gross-out quotient, but it doesn't replace the comedy -- it accentuates it.

What I most enjoyed about American Pie is that the female characters are more than the two-dimensional sex objects seen in Porky's, The Last American Virgin and movies of their ilk. In American Pie, the girls have a few tricks up their sleeves as well, and they get to make sex objects out of some of the men for a change.

American Pie is a juvenile film to be sure, even though it's rated R, but it's funny and intelligent too. One can't ask much more from a teen sex comedy.

Trivia: Chris Owen, who plays Sherman, can also be seen in Can't Hardly Wait, as the Klepto Kid, and October Sky, as Quentin. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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