Remember when it was seen as novelty to have brothers make movies together, back when the Joel & Ethan Coen made “Blood Simple”? Now, with Andy & Larry Wachowski, Peter & Bobby Farrelly and now Paul & Chris Weitz, it’s like been there, done that. The Weitz’s directorial debut leaves the same impression. It’s as entertaining as most of the summer’s other big movies, and sometimes a little more, but little of it is anything new. In fact, almost every scene seems like a throwback to an earlier, often better movie. “American Pie” revolves around four horny teenage guys who make a pact to lose their virginity before prom. That’s it, that’s the plot. I know, that sounds like one of the horribly lame raunch fests Troma produced in the early ’80s, but at least the Weitz have more money and good sense than the dumbasses who made duds like “Stuck on You” or “The First Turn-On”, and their movie at least tries to humanize its protagonists.
First, you’ve got Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), who is the movie’s most boring character. He’s got a girlfriend (Tara “I’ll suck your cock for 1000$” Reid), and she’s a total babe, and she doesn’t mind some serious third base action. So what if she wants to wait for the right time to have sex? The scenes around these two are really just frustrating. It’s a bit more direct about sex, but it still feels like any of the recent phony high school movies, “She’s All That” or some other dud. At least, the subplot with Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) steals from movies that are actually good. Like the heroes of “The Graduate” and “Rushmore”, Finch is a sophisticated, quirky young man with an interest for older women. Unfortunately, the character has to go through an humiliating bathroom incident that’s totally ripped off “Dumb & Dumber”. Jim (Jason Biggs)’s storyline also borrows heavily from the Farrelly’s movies (mostly “There’s Something About Mary”) and various other teen flicks like “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, but at least it’s hilarious. Man, the guy is a dope! You know the embarrassment you feel when someone barges into your room while you’re choking the one-eyed snake? Imagine if you were using a… Oh, it’s too sick! Jim also tries his way with a foreign exchange student (played by Shannon Elizabeth, who posed for “Playboy”) as well as with an annoying band geek. Some guys are desperate!
Basically, so far, we’ve got an unoriginal, superficial yet sometimes senselessly funny gross-out high school comedy. That’d be worth the look, but not that much. What makes the film rise above crass like Porky’s is the remaining storyline, which has lacrosse playing Oz (Chris Klein, who played a similarly good natured jock in the much better “Election”) joining the school’s singing troop to serenade a cute choirgirl (Mena Suvari). It might sound corny, but it feels utterly sincere and romantic (is there anything sweeter than a couple singing to each other?), and it makes up for the movie’s cheap shots.
Overall, “American Pie” feels rehashed, the direction doesn’t break anything and it doesn’t have the wit of the Weitz brothers’ script for “Antz”, but I laughed loud and often enough (in no small part thanks to the inspired casting of scene-stealing newcomer Seann William Scott as Stifler, Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad and Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler’s MILF) to recommend it even though it could have been more.