American Pie

USA 1999

Reviewed by Kevin Maher


Our synopses give away the plot in full, including surprise twists.

East Great Falls High, Michigan, the present. Senior student Jim is caught masturbating by his parents. The next day the brash Stifler invites Jim and friends Oz, Kevin and Finch to a party. At the party, Kevin's girlfriend Vicky spits a mouthful of Kevin's semen into a glass of beer which Stifler accidentally drinks. Jim and his friends pledge to lose their virginity by Prom night - three weeks away. Jim's father lectures him about the female form; Oz, a talented lacrosse player, joins the school choir to get close to singer Heather; and rumours spread about Finch's sexual prowess.

Told that 'third base' feels like apple pie, Jim is caught having sex with an apple pie. Czech exchange student Nadia comes over to study with Jim. She changes in his room while Jim secretly watches her. He comes back into the room while she's masturbating; she forces him to strip for her. He has two premature ejaculations.

In school Jim's performance has made him a laughing stock. Shy band member Michelle invites him to the prom. Stifler discovers that Finch has been paying for his own rumours, and tricks him into drinking a laxative. Oz leaves the lacrosse team for Heather. At the prom Jim has sex with Michelle, Kevin with Vicky, and Finch with Stifler's mother.


That debut screenwriter Adam Herz has used Bob Clark's Porky's (1981) as a structural template for American Pie is obvious. From the opening erection gag through to the alternative penetration setpiece, this bawdy account of over-excitable high-school teens who 'just gotta get laid' is surprisingly faithful to the crude episodic pay-offs of its predecessor. But, whereas Porky's crudely celebrated the scopophilic urge of its male leads to view women as strippers, prostitutes or virgin cheerleaders from the safety of hidden peepholes, the actual, naive engagement of American Pie's young protagonists with their objects of desire lends the film an apologetic and often sweetly emasculated tone.

Herz and director Paul Weitz (co-writer of Antz) have dispensed with the usual hierarchy of teen-movie characters, where the smart students are socially maladjusted nerds and the athletes thuggish jocks. Instead, Jim, Kevin, Oz and Finch are a largely anonymous, banal, foursome. The characters are ciphers of adolescent trauma, easy targets that provide this slim tale with its comic centre. There are some overtly Oedipal obsessions - Stifler's mother represents the ultimate in sexual booty, Jim chooses to have sex with his mom's apple pie, and the gang even have a category of desirable women known by the acronym MILF ("Moms I'd Like to Fuck").

On a more conspicuous comedic level, there are inserts from the Something about Mary school of body horror, for instance Jim's two consecutive premature ejaculations and Kevin's accidentally imbibed semen. But surprisingly enough, given the film's reactionary antecedents, it is only in the presence of the female characters that American Pie offers genuine wit and sparkle.

An opening exchange between a nervous Oz and the college girl who announces that she's studying "Post Modernist Feminist Thought" sets the standard. The control exercised by Natasha Lyonne's cynical Jessica, Alyson Hannigan's introverted dominatrix Michelle, and Mena Suvari's virgin Heather over their ineffectual menfolk provides the film's narrative momentum. Jessica's tale-spinning leads to Finch's crisis; Heather's belief in virginity brings Oz off the sports field and into the school choir; even Shannon Elizabeth's thankless role as Nadia, the semi-naked exchange student, is given a pro-active twist when she forces Jim to perform a humiliating striptease.

On a technical level though, banal sit-com shooting style and generic teen performances often make American Pie indistinguishable from the likes of She's All That and Varsity Blues. And even Herz and Weitz's overhaul of the Porky's formula has its flaws - the bullying of an incontinent classmate, the introduction of a college heirloom of secret sexual technique, and the beginning of Nadia's bedroom frolics all seem to be lazily skewed towards a familiar teenage male demographic. An ending that sees our boys return from the sexual front rejoicing in bachelorhood also rings off on a conservative note: "This is the coolest!" says Kevin, as the boys drink shakes together safely beyond the grasp of female interference. For such a shameless re-invention of 80s smut, American Pie is better than we might expect, but in the end it's simply a noble addition to the lower ranks of thoughtful teen comedies.


Warren Zide
Craig Perry
Chris Moore
Chris Weitz
Adam Herz
Director of Photography
Richard Crudo
Priscilla Nedd-Friendly
Production Designer/Art Director
Paul Peters
David Lawrence
©Universal Studios
Production Companies
Universal Pictures presents a Zide/Perry production
Louis G. Friedman
Chris Bender
Associate Producer
J.B. Rogers
Production Co-ordinator
Kathleen Keller
Location Manager
Geoffrey Smith
Post-production Supervisor
Tricia Miles
Assistant Directors
J.B. Rogers
Hal Olofsson
Ingrid Behrens
Script Supervisor
Annie Welles
Joseph Middleton
Michelle Morris
Camera Operator
Dan Turrett
Steadicam Operator
Gerry O'Malley
Visual Effects
Banned From The Ranch
Special Effects Co-ordinator
Ron Trost
Effects Technician
Chris Nelson
Set Designer
Joshua Lusby
Set Decorator
Amy Wells
Costume Designer
Leesa Evans
Costume Supervisor
Janet Sobel
Key Artist:
Rod Wilson
Key Stylist:
Voni Hinkle
Title Design/Opticals
Pacific Title/Mirage
David Lawrence
Music Supervisor
Gary Jones
Music Editor
Charles Martin Inouye
Music Scoring Mixer
Guy Defazio
Music Recordist
Rick Riccio
"Anomaly (Calling Your Name)" by Brian Transeau, performed by Libra Presents Taylor; "At Last" by Mack Gordon, Harry Warren, performed by Etta James; "Celebrity Skin" by Courtney Love, Eric Erlandson, Billy Corgan, performed by Hole; "Don't You Forget about Me" by Steve Schiff, Keith Forsey; "Do You Believe in Magic" by John Sebastian; "Everything to Everyone" by Art Alexakis, Craig Montoya, Greg Eklund, performed by Everclear; "Flagpole Sitta" by Evan Sult, Sean Nelson, Aaron Huffman, Jeff Lin, performed by Harvey Danger; "Find Your Way Back Home" by J.R. Richards, Rodney Browning, Jim Wood, Scot Alexander, George Pendergast, performed by Dishwalla; "Following a Star" by Dan Clark, performed by Duke Daniels; "Going to Hell" by/performed by The Brian Jonestown Massacre; "Good Morning Baby" by/performed by Dan Wilson, Bic Runga; "Glory" by Mark McGrath, Charles Frazier, Rodney Sheppard, Matthew Karges, Craig Bullock, Joseph 'MCG' Nichol, performed by Sugar Ray; "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You)" by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edward Holland Jr; "I Never Thought You Would Come" by/performed by Loni Rose; "I Walk Alone" by Thomas Flowers, Doug Eldridge, Ric Ivanesivich, Fred Nelson Jr, performed by Oleander; "Love Muscle" by Carvin Knowles, performed by The Sex-O-Rama Band; "Man with the Hex" by John Bunkley, performed by The Atomic Fireballs; "Midnight at the Oasis" by David Nichtern; "Mrs. Robinson" by Paul Simon, performed by Paul and Garfunkel; "Mutt" by Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus, Travis Barkor, performed by Blink 182; "New Girl" by Stephan Jenkins, Kevin Cadogan, performed by Third Eye Blind; "One Week" by Ed Robertson, performed by Barenaked Ladies; "Semi-Charmed Life" by Stephan Jenkins, performed by Third Eye Blind; "The Sign" by Buddha, Joker, Jenny, Linn; "Stranger by the Day" by Ed Brown, Kevin Lynch, Mark Vecchiarelli, performed by Shades Apart; "Summertime" by Scot Sax, performed by Bachelor Number One; "Super Down" by Jason Bieler, Peter Dembrowski, Richard Sanders, George Fotiadis, performed by Super TransAtlantic; "Sway" by/performed by Bic Runga; "Turn It Around" by Marc Dauer, Jay Schwartz, performed by Five Easy Pieces; "Vintage Queen" by John Feldmann, performed by Goldfinger; "Walk Don't Run" by John Smith, performed by The Ventures; "Wishen" by Ben Brewer, performed by The Loose Nuts; "You Wanted More" by Emerson Hart, Jeff Russo, Dan Lavery, performed by Tonic
Sound Design
Gary Gerlich
Production Sound Mixer
Cameron Hamza
Re-recording Mixers
Andrew MacDonald
Chris David
Mike Day
Supervising Sound Editor
Richard LeGrand Jr
Dialogue Editors
Bob McNabb
Walter Spencer
Sound Effects Editors
William Hooper
Patrick O'Sullivan
Norval D. Crutcher III
Group Co-ordinators:
Steve & Edie
Greg Lowe
Diane Linn
Alan Holly
Greg Steele
David Boulton
Dan O'Connell
John Cucci
Stunt Co-ordinator
Russell Towery
Lacrosse Co-ordinator
Pete Pallad
Jason Biggs
Chris Klein
Chris Ostreicher, 'Oz'
Natasha Lyonne
Thomas Ian Nicholas
Tara Reid
Mena Suvari
Eugene Levy
Jim's dad
Jennifer Coolidge
Stifler's mom
Shannon Elizabeth
Alyson Hannigan
Clyde Kusatsu
English teacher
Chris Owen
Lawrence Pressman
Coach Marshall
Seann W. Scott
Eddie Kaye Thomas
Molly Cheek
Jim's mom
Christina Milian
band member
Woody Schultz
party guy
Casey Erklin
drinking buddy
Annika Hays
party girl
Eden Riegel
sophomore chick
Justin Isfeld
John Cho
'MILF' guys
Alexandra Adi
central girl
Veronica Lauren
Monica Mcswain
vocal jazz girls
Fletcher Sheridan
Robyn Roth
Jamar Cargo
John Cho
vocal jazz group
Akuyoe Graham
vocal jazz teacher
Katie Lansdale
enthralled girl
Jay Rossi
sushi customer
Linda Gehringer
Vicky's mom
Ashton Dane
Vicky's dad
Sasha Barrese
random cute girl
Eric Lively
Eli Marienthal
Stifler's younger brother
Travis Cody Aimer
computer nerd
Mark Hoppus
Thomas M. DeLonge
Scott Raynor
garage band
Danny Spink
guy with monkey
James DeBello
enthusiastic guy
Amber Phillips
Clementine Ford
computer girls
Hilary Salvatore
girl holding out
Jasmine Stocken
Jillian Bach
bathroom girls
David Kuhn
prom band singer
Dan Coronel
Pete Pallad
J.D. Doyle
Lito Coronel
lacrosse referees
Markus Botnick
assistant lacrosse coach
Robby Murakami
Addison Krantz
Alex Nies
Roger Sewell
Donald J. Collins
Ryan Bates
Joe Park
Walter Toole
Travis Petraglia
Richard Schoenberg
Amon Button
Steven Hopkins
Peter McPartlin
Sean Elder
Sean Whitacre
Jon Mark Fabian
Ian Televik
Joshua Mele
Gian Caputo
Garret Kellenberger
Timothy Sovay
Steven McAfoose
Kevin Tidgewell
Jesse Patterson
Jeff Schwartz
Chris Loudos
Lyle Tomlinson
Sami Atayan
Kurt Zimmerman
Tom Christian
Dustan Beitey
Chris McGnie
Tri C. Nguyen
Kirk Lamitie
Todd Samuel Parker
lacrosse players
Casey Affleck
Kevin's brother
United International Pictures (UK) Ltd
8,597 feet
95 minutes 32 seconds
Dolby digital/Digital DTS sound/SDDS
Colour by
Last Updated: 20 Dec 2011