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What’s So Great About ‘American Pie?’

Teen movies are a dime a dozen. Most tend to follow similar if not identical plots, and they usually aren’t interesting enough to merit continual looks at their protagonists. 1999’s American Pie, however, defied those odds, spawning three sequels, one of which, American Reunion, hits theaters this weekend.

As its title suggests, “Reunion” sees the faces we’ve come to know through the American Pie franchise returning for a high school reunion. Though they’ve all advanced in life well past their days in high school, we can still expect lots of wild behavior and irreverent humor that won’t make its way past the censors once it hits network television.

As for whether or not “Reunion” makes a worthwhile addition to the series, though, that’s still to be seen, but for the time being, we at Player Affinity decided to look at the American Pie films (sans the direct-to-home-release pics, of course) to figure why people kept returning to the series time and time again.

American Pie (1999)

What’s It About? High school seniors Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) make a vow to give up their virginity by the time of their prom. That’s the basic plot of the film. Throw in a pie incident, “this one time at band camp,” the one-track-minded sidekick Stifler (Seann William Scott), and a webcam mishap, and you have one of the most essential mainstream comedies of the last 20 years.

Why Did the Masses Flock? As mentioned earlier, studios throw teen films at audiences like there’s no tomorrow. Additionally, films with raunchy sexual content aren’t uncommon either. However, before American Pie hit theaters, it was so rare to see a teen-oriented feature that was so unashamed in its sexual content.

What’s So Special About It? On the surface, the initial installment of the American Pie series seems like nothing more than a teen-centric farce with lots of sex jokes, but – as much flack as I might get for saying it – it’s so much more than that. The film gives a humorous but also rather revealing look at the sexuality component of teenage coming-of-age. The comedy aspects made the film accessible, but it’s not hard to imagine many finding these situations relatable.

American Pie 2 (2001)

What’s It About? After one year of college, the four friends from the original film – as well as Stifler (they need his money) – rent a cabin for the summer. Replace the pie incident from the first installment with a superglue incident, and you have a somewhat similar feature.

Why Did the Masses Flock? As is the case with most successful sequels, the popularity of its predecessor and the return of its principle actors seem like the biggest components to its success.

What’s So Special About It? When you feel like you know a set of characters in a film – or any other medium, for that matter – it’s almost always nice to return and see how they’re doing. What’s more, we do see several of the characters take mature approaches to the game of life, such as realizing they’re in love and maintaining friendships with former lovers. Unfortunately, however, the humor balances quite awkwardly with its general theme of growing up.

American Wedding (2002)

What’s It About? Jim and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are finally tying the knot. However, Jim has to do a whole lot in planning the wedding, and what’s there to an American Pie movie without Stifler trying to have some fun?

Why Did the Masses Flock? It’s no secret that mainstream media often makes a big to-do about weddings. Take a look at the royal wedding of Prince William, Duke of a Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (more commonly known as William and Kate). However, weddings are always the talk of the town in fake incarnations as well. Television shows often make huge event-like episodes out of weddings (i.e. Will and Grace), and a little property about vampires and werewolves capitalized heavily on its last installment, which happened to focus on a new marriage. Add the general public’s fascination with weddings to the fan base of this franchise, and you have a bona fide hit.

What’s So Special About It? A bit of dialogue near the end of the film between explains it all:

Michelle: How did a little perv like you, turn into such a great guy?
Jim: How did a little nympho like you, turn into such a great girl?
Michelle: I’m still a nympho.
Jim: Well, I’m still a perv.

Even as we grow up and mature, we carry with us little bits of everything we’ve experienced along the way, including our bawdy and often embarrassing adolescent mindsets and experiences. Hopefully that's the same kind of message that American Reunion brings as it hits theaters this weekend.


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