My brother said by the end of the summer I’ll get the big picture. And I see it. No matter what, times change, things are different. But the problem is, I don’t want them to be.
The American Pie Reunion post got me thinking about the group. In fact, it even prompted me to re-watch all three films and write about them – I’ve already written about American Pie, so this is next up. I’ll admit the temptation to watch the four films released since American Pie: The Wedding did linger a little longer than it should have in my mind but I think the only thing I would want to see is Eugene Levy’s scenes – and I have a funny feeling that he was paid lots for a one-day shooting schedule. I’ll turn to YouTube for that methinks. But the second film at any rate was ambitious – 11 characters on the poster and 11 stories that had to be shown – inevitably there was going to be problems, but I remember that personally I was incredibly excited to see it and the fact that everyone was back merely heightened my excitement for it.
The whole ‘next step’ mantra that Kev seems to live by is what propels us into this next film. Rather than the four guys tackling small issues and making them into big-dramatic-story-arcs (losing their virginity is hardly a big issue but, as a teenager, it is), now it seems they are tackling much bigger issues that everyone can relate to: Kev still obsessed with an ex-girlfriend, Jim concerned about his sexual-ability and, even Oz and Heather tentatively try and cope with a long-distance relationship.High School is a small place – and their presence seemed big, but now they are at different Universities across the world and when they are apart they are not as strong or as confident. We see characters mature and become much more sensible in their outlooks – and this is a great way to continue the story.
Even Stifler is fleshed out that little bit more. Originally, Chris Penn filmed multiple sequences as Rick Stifler, his Dad, but these were cut out of the film on the grounds that it was a bit too dramatic – they were replaced by Stifler’s brother instead. It still stands though that Stifler kicking out two guys from his party as they disrespected his Mother (“she was a Saint!”) alongside how his bully-antics are acknowledged on multiple occasions as he is either pee-ed upon or, in the most revealing scene, he comes across as so shallow that he will “kiss every guy and grab every ass” to sleep with the girls that he believes are lesbians. In the first film, Stifler was more of a scene-stealing side-character: he held parties, he mocked the guys and his Mum was hot. In this film, it is clear that Oz and Stifler have become much closer at University and that what makes him such a good friend is that despite all his male-chauvenistic shortcomings, he still pitches in and helps out and he is ultimately after the same thing: lots of fun with friends. Unlike American Pie: The Wedding, this film shows how Stifler is realistically still a part of their group.
What is great about American Pie 2 is the change in Jim. American Pie presents Jim as sex-obsessed throughout – the vast majority of situations he found himself in – the pie, the tube-sock, the double-come – all happened as he was simply desperate for sex. In American Pie 2 this is not so much the case – in fact it is merely his clumsiness which is the problem. All the band-camp scenes (“Come on Petey!”) are rarely sex-based, just clumsiness whilst the glue-sequence is again just unlucky. His arc changes him from sex-obsessed (“you suck”) to sex-comfortable. And that’s a big change that I believe most men don’t make until much older than Jim’s 19-year-old self. Then again, Oz has already made that step and his original plot involving both himself and Heather cheating on each other, though tragic and lacking comedy, would be the ‘next step’ in relationship challenges. Instead, I think Oz becomes a character who is a rock – he stands by his girlfriend and celebrates the fact that he has found ‘the one’. Stifler is constantly mocking him for it but it is realistic to assume that Oz’s comfortable and confident attitude towards sex and relationships (which is equally reflected at the end of American Pie as he doesn’t even want to discuss his private sex-life) inevitably influences his friends -and namely Jim.
The creator of the pact in American Pie, Kev, is the friend who ‘comes up’ with the beach-house plan (again, a great Casey Affleck cameo in there too). But, much like the first film, Kev’s pro-active nature is what, by the end, we are expected to disagree with. If you remember in American Pie, what makes the film interesting (and makes the spin-offs less so) is how, despite all four guys making a pact to all have sex – and indeed, they all do – the moral of the story is that it doesn’t matter. Kev sitting on the steps ready to go home because of the pressure he put on others and how unfair it may be to Vicky. In American Pie 2, again, Kev goes off in a sulk. This time ending up on the beach (originally, he went back to the school but the location jarred with the sequences on either side so it was re-shot) and he reveals that the reason he organised the trip was to re-claim old times … but in fact, he needs to move on. It seems strange that the attraction to the films and the entire set-up is always belittled whilst we, as viewers, get to enjoy watching the films on the basis that the idea of four-guys-trying-to-get-laid and our favorite characters all together on the beach is actually what is interesting. At least in American Pie: The Wedding it didn’t end with Kev going off in a sulk and everyone agreeing that weddings are unnecessary.
Unfortunately when the four guys have the conversation on the beach, despite interesting points being raised – nothing is really answered. It is a simple case of “I have a feeling things are going to get better” and they go back to the party.
I think that Adam Herz worked so hard on this script and put his heart and soul into a huge amount of plots that ultimately got cut. They even got filmed too. I think with a blu-ray release being inevitable, they need to put all the Stifler’s-Dad and Heather-and-Oz plots back in just for shits a giggles. Keep the normal version of the film – the theatrical and the ‘uncut’ version – but a three-hour epic version would be an incredible watch. Bottom-line is that the film is a just a little too busy and it plays a little bit weaker than the first film – but I still laugh heartily to the trumpet-ass joke, “c’mon Petey!” and Nadia getting excited about The Sherminator. I think a few problems also lie in the very limited perspective on homosexuality – as if lesbians are only alive for sex-jokes. I think they realized this and dealt with this in the next film …
I'm digging how you break up these reviews Simon.
I like “American Pie 2” – not as much as the original, but still a fun film.
Thanks Duke – a friend of mine who was paid (imagine that…) to write reviews had to break it up as the creators of the site assumed it was easy to read: people could home in on what they wanted to read.
AP2 made more money than any other American pie film, so financially, it is deemed the best. but I would agree – I preferred the original.