American Pie 10 Years, 7 Movies and a lot of Teenage Hormones
Well it's been 10 years since back in 1999 the boys Jim, Kevin, Finch, Oz and of course the imitable Stifler burst onto our screens in the original "American Pie" and since then there have been a further 6 movies in the series. Okay technically there were only 3 and then came the "American Pie Presents .... " offshoots which although started a bit roughly and went straight to DVD have had their moments. So as they are related either by characters or themes to the original they are still part of the American Pie series of movies.
With the release of the 7th movie in the series, "American Pie presents The Book of Love" there is no better time to have a recap of the movies, especially as many people never ventured past "American Pie: The Wedding".
American Pie (1999)
So first the original "American Pie" and undoubtedly the best out of the entire series where we get to meet the hormonally charged gang of Jim, Kevin, Finch, Oz and the larger than life Stifler. The storyline revolves around a pact between Jim, Kevin, Finch and Oz that they will all lose their virginity by prom night, but things don't run quite as planned for our four young heroes, sometimes with disastrous repercussions.
With a blend of juvenile shenanigans and gross out humour "American Pie" was very much a movie which appealed to teenagers, who found gags around drinking beer laced with body fluid hilarious and yes I was one of them. But it was not all about the gags and sexual exploits, who can forget the hapless Jim with Nadia the foreign exchange student. Beneath all the hilarity "American Pie" also had a subtle message that life is not just about sex and that love does come into the equation.
American Pie 2 (2001)
So two years after the success of the first "American Pie" we got a sequel which brought back the gang for a second bout of sexual activity and teenage humour. With the gang all having gone off to college they reunite for a summer of fun at a beach house where all that is on there mind is partying and sex. It's a brilliant follow up to the original, expanding on the storylines and relationships of the first movie whilst also capitalizing on Jason Biggs willingness to make the fool of himself as Jim Levenstein.
In many ways "American Pie 2" is a nice follow up as it feels all very familiar like we are welcoming back old friends but then develops the storyline so that it's not just a rehash of the original. Yes there are more body fluid gags and sexual embarrassment for the clan but it moves things along nicely with relationships developing throughout the movie. Plus like the original there is a subtle message about love placed amongst all the jokes and like the original it doesn't get in the way of all the humour.
American Pie: The Wedding (2003)
Whilst I liked the first two "American Pie" movies I have to say the third outing was a bit of a disappointment and borders on being a little too stupid. This time round we see that the relationship between Jim and band geek Michelle has progressed and are planning to get married, which unsurprisingly doesn't run smoothly when you have friends like Finch and Stifler. But with stag nights to organize and Michelle’s sister to impress the gang certainly have fun.
In many ways this third outing was a good idea, a wedding is a nice way to go for Jim and Michelle, especially as his hapless behaviour can only cause issues when he meets the in-laws. But a lot of the fun and cleverness seems to have been lost along with Chris Klein, Mena Suvari and Tara Reid who are absent this time round. Instead of cleverness we get a lot more set piece juvenile humour and some gross out comedy, yes the dog turd truffles, which even made me feel ill. There was something missing this time round just stopping "American Pie: The Wedding" from being a great third movie in the series.
American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005)
So the first of the "American Pie Presents" movies and I have to say that "American Pie Presents Band Camp" is the worst movie in the entire series. With the original gang all gone and only a return for Eugene Levy as Mr. Levenstein and a small part for Chris Owen as Sherman we get introduced to a new set of characters lead by Steve Stifler's younger brother Matt.
When Matt is caught playing a prank on the school band he is forced to attend band camp for the summer as punishment. But Matt being a Stifler has other ideas and plans to make a hidden camera movie of Band Geek shower activity, that is until he starts to see what camp really means to all the band geeks and in particular Elyse the leader of the school band.
The biggest issue with "American Pie Presents Band Camp" is not that we have new characters but that it seems to have gone back to kindergarten with jokes feeling rather safe, the sexual element being under worked and not the same blend of characters to make it work. It lacks that strong lead character which Jason Biggs so admirably managed in the originals and instead we get Tad Hilgenbrink as Matt a sort of blend of Steve Stifler with Jim, which doesn't work. It ends up feeling like a typical teenage romcom spiced up with a few teenage antics. As part of the "American Pie" series it's the weakest by far and thankfully what followed was significantly better.
American Pie Presents The Naked Mile (2006)
So after the disappointment of "American Pie Presents Band Camp" the series got another change and this time around we got introduced to Erik Stifler a cousin of Steve Stifler and also Dwight another one of the Stifler cousins. Thankfully this time around the humour reverted back to more teenage high jinx, gross out comedy and sexual mishaps making it much funnier than the previous movie and more focussed on a teenage market.
Whilst Erik is a Stifler by name he is not by nature and is still a virgin. After a disastrous attempt to go all the way with his girlfriend, she gives him permission to visit Cousin Dwight at college. Along with best friend Cooze they head off for a weekend with Dwight where they are introduced to college life and the legendary Naked Mile.
Whilst the link to the original "American Pie" movies may be getting a little stretched "American Pie Presents The Naked Mile" is a return to form with the level of juvenile humour and naked titillation you would expect. In fact the characters of Erik, Dwight and Cooze are pretty good, more in the style of the original gang and along with the returning Eugene Levy as Mr. Levenstein it is definitely a much improved movie. It still lacks something which the original movie gave us, maybe that friendship between the gang, but the jokes and humour certainly make up for it.
American Pie Presents Beta House (2007)
Following on from the much improved "American Pie Presents The Naked Mile" we get "American Pie Presents Beta House" which thankfully continues on with the same characters from "The Naked Mile". This time round Erik and Cooze have finished school and are off to college and the perfect place for them to go is where Dwight is. With a list of tasks to complete so that they can join Dwight's fraternity Beta House as well as help him beat their rival fraternity The Geek House there is plenty of high jinx for the boys to get into.
Despite these "American Pie Presents" movies all ending up straight to DVD affairs they are in fact not terrible movies, especially when it comes to The Naked Mile and Beta House. The humour this time around again focuses on a series of set piece juvenile gags and borderline gross out comedy more inline with the original movie. Plus despite not being really that important the storylines to Beta House are in fact quite enjoyable.
It certainly helps that we see the same characters return along with the same cast who played them but more importantly Eugene Levy returns again and the longer the series has gone on the more important he has become to the movie. The character of Mr. Levenstein is hilarious especially in this sixth outing as he delivers awkward advice to the teenagers.
American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009)
So on to the latest straight to DVD movie in the "American Pie Presents" series "American Pie Presents: The Book of Love". Well sadly this 7th movie is a disappointment and in many ways is another change in direction although it comes across more like a rehash of the first "American Pie" movie with both story elements and jokes being repeated in this latest teen comedy.
In "The Book of Love" we return to high school "East Great Falls" where we meet 3 new hapless teenagers desperate to have sex. When one of them discovers the legendary book of love, the bible of sex tips he believes their prayers have been answered. Except the book has been damaged and incomplete making it useless especially when they try to use some of the advice.
As already mentioned "The Book of Love" feels very much like the original, taking a lot of the elements from the original and trying to merge them into a new movie, even a new beginning. But it fails because the humour, the nudity and even the characters feel tired and forced, thrown at us in a mismatch of scenes. I like that they tie it back to the original with the discovery of 'the book of love', plus of course the now expected return of Eugene Levy as Mr. Levenstein, but it just doesn't blend very well feeling inferior to all the other "American Pie" movies except for the seriously poor "The Naked Mile".
So there you go a brief recap of the first 7 American Pie movies and the antics which the various characters have gotten up to. Whilst the first two movies are definitely my favourites of the series both "The Naked Mile" and "Beta House" are surprisingly good movies which take the series off on a pleasant tangent. But of course what we all want to know is whether there will be any more American Pie movies?
Well as it stands there doesn't seem to be any definitely plans for another American Pie movie, although there are rumours of an 8th movie being made if you search the net. Although the 7th movies is disappointing I can't see any reason why to stop these direct to DVD "American Pie presents" movies as they can be quite enjoyable once you accept that they are spin-offs. But what would be nice is for another American Pie movie to be made with the original cast. With it being 10 years since the original and 6 since "The Wedding" it would be great to have a catch up. I can see it know "American Pie The Reunion" or "American Pie the birth" although I think a divorce or funeral would be pushing it in the wrong direction. But as with all things there are stumbling blocks and as some of the original cast have had more success than others it may not be so easy to reunite the old gang once more.