You want a story? Here's a story. Stiffler finds this beer...
Somehow I felt it was time to review this vaguely recent teen sex comedy. It's not like films like this naturally rate high for me, but occasionally I want something other than deep thoughts for my entertainment.
But why can't a movie like this be a serious film? I don't mean that suddenly we'll find deep meaning, but there can be something said in this form about people of this age desperately in search of... well, you know.
So, our quartet of leading horny guys are mostly mix and match except for how the film treats them. We've got one guy - Kevin, if you're keeping track - already in a relationship (with Tara Reid), but only skirting around the issue, if you will. Oz (Chris Klein) is the jock trying to get girls to see his sensitive side. Jim (the nearly omnipresent-in-young-person movies Jason Biggs) is your basic hornball who hasn't had much luck with girls to this point. Finch is the slightly bookish guy who is trying to win out by being clever with his approach to women. Together they agree to all get laid by the end of prom night, a couple weeks from the start of the movie.
These guys are our main characters, so what does it mean that they're almost the same person? Finch is the only one with a little individuality beyond your earnest young everyboy. Picking these guys up and rotating their roles in the story would not yield a very differnet script. Let's come back to this in a few moments, after looking at some other things.
Consider for the moment our other characters. They are in very many ways simply stereotypes for our young pups to react against. But that's at least what we're lead to believe, particularly with our female leads. But, somewhat surprisingly, many (though not all - that would get ridiculous) of these characters get fleshed out as real people before the end of the picture. It borderlines having a formula, but sometimes a formula works for the best, depending how you play it.
Before I get too serious about the whole, I have to point out that this is a comedy, after all. A sex-oriented teen romp, in fact. They walk the gross-out line here, but never truly cross it, unlike many other recent films. By staying close to character and not going all out for the gags, they keep the film in the territory to be seriously considered as an all-around good flick.
American Pie is a first studio effort from director/producer team Chris & Paul Weitz. They pretty much lead the audio commentary on the DVD with writer Adam Herz and several of the actors. The commentary itself is pretty typical among DVDs I've listened to, not getting past just some people commenting on something they've had a personal interest in for a lay audience. The most amusing thing about it, as an all male commentary team, someone is continually commenting on how hot the female cast and extras are.
The cinematography is generally conservative, with occasional subtleties, but more or less staying out of the way of the viewer, which is generally a good choice. The few experiments work well because they are well within the bounds of a mostly passive viewer of the story.
And back to the question of any possible meaning around the near identical personalities of our protagonists - or lack of personality as some might say. The one thing the commentary track reveals here is that Finch is the character that changed the most during the process of putting the script onto film. Can we conclude again they were all initially aspects of the same person? Not with certainty, but it's a more interesting way to read the movie than to assume the rookie writer was just uninterested in making interesting characters. Because if we look at it that way, the movie actually makes a statement - that we are all simply a product of our circumstances, doomed to experience frustration, and can win through it all if we just stick to it honestly.
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