2019 marks the anniversary for the release of the cult classic teen movie American Pie, a raunchy, obscene celebration of American adolescence. Released in 1999, American Pie is now officially 20 years old, and although a little outdated in parts it has stood the test of time due to its ridiculously frank and relatable depiction of teenage sexuality. Almost doubling it’s budget profits on opening weekend American Pie got the ball rolling for a fairly successful franchise (some additions faring better than others) with 4 cinema releases and 4 straight to video spin-offs. The cinema releases in fact managed to score a profit of over $1 billion cumulatively worldwide, demonstrating the sheer attraction that exists for American Pie’s indecent comical appeal.
American Pie follows the journey of a group of young men as they make a pact to lose their virginity before they go to college. Each of the guys has their own ideas on how to achieve the ultimate goal of getting laid. Jim originally embarrassing himself in front of Slovakian fling Nadia chooses to pursue a seemingly safe option with the deviously unassuming Michelle. Kevin is trying to seal the deal with hesitantly thoughtful girlfriend Vicky. Finch is using the powers of advertising, spreading rumors of his sexual prowess in a bid to attract potential matches. Oz has found refuge in a much more sincere crush when he meets Heather, a collected and sophisticated choir performer. Last but not least there’s Stifler, not part of the pact, and a ridiculous manifestation of jock culture, lending his blunt vulgarity at the comical expense of the others.
Growing up with the American Pie series it is very easy to see why it has such a vast appeal to audiences around the globe. American Pie is certainly vulgar in parts, with its honestly refreshing slice of life situations playing out in moments of pure cringe and hilarity. American Pie introduces viewers to an intriguing concoction of comradery and rivalry. The boys’ intentions are often muddled as they choose to encourage each other’s endeavors but equally aren’t against jeering each other on the way to get a laugh. The absence of any heavy subject matter, and the fact that their virginity is the most immediate problem in the characters’ life, is what makes American Pie such a perfectly immature and light-hearted watch.
This being said American Pie is surprisingly meaningful even if the characters have questionable priorities. The cast is charmingly mischievous, playfully trying to outdo each other whilst simultaneously having unmatched on-screen chemistry. The American Pie boys are also matched with a diverse ensemble of equally interesting female characters. Unlike other teen movies of the time, American Pie’s girls are 3 dimensional and offer an honest female voice for teenage women. Just as confused and lost on the subject of sex as their male counterparts Vicki, Heather and Michelle make American Pie equitably endearing for female representation.
More memorably, American Pie has delivered audiences some of the most iconic scenes and characters in all of teen movie history. Fan-favorite Stifler will be remembered for his ridiculously crass disregard for other people, often sacrificing friendship in order to get a reaction. For those who love the film, a fresh apple pie will never be served without a quick thought to Jim’s attempts at copulation with something warm. We were also graced with hilarious characters, Jessica and Sherman (aka the Sherminator), two fantastic supporting roles that played devils advocate and gave American Pie some of it’s best one-liners. Last but not least my personal favorite, Mr. Levenstein, the absolute legend of a Father. Mr. Levenstein, the awkward, respectful and non-judgemental man who provided the world with the finest of pep talks, executed with a graceful disregard for any indication of discomfort.
Finally, American Pie engagingly panders to audiences’ primal urges of sexuality whilst being laced with incredibly humbling and ridiculous situations. The classic high school friendship story is told with a heartwarming and frank script that manages to entertain with quick, offensive quips married alongside exceptionally funny physical comedy. Moving away from the standard formulaic storylines American Pie was fresh out the oven and stood apart from other teen movies of the time. So after 20 years, it might be time to join the American Pie cast once again as you remember the stupidity and naivety of reckless youth in this remarkably satisfying classic.
Maggie has been a film critic for Ready Steady Cut since 2018. Maggie gained a BSc in Film Production and Technology leading to her most notable credit for the production designer for a short film screened as part of the London Film Festival line up.