As for Hollywood, self-congratulation on splashing the screen with bathroom humor is its own form of awkward adolescence.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Beating its breast with pride in its own boldness, Hollywood has made American Pie, a self-conscious announcement that America is ready to outgross-out the rest of the global movie world. American Pie is a somewhat silly, occasionally funny, mostly boring movie about adolescent sex. If it has a strength--and you have to look hard for one--it is that the girls are more savvy than the boys, a neat role reversal that keeps the movie from being meanspirited.

Four high school seniors, mortified by their innocence and determined not to bring it to college ("We're all going to go to college as virgins; they probably have special dorms for people like us."), make a pact to lose their virginity by the night of the senior prom. This movie is the story of their struggle.

Although the cast of only slightly known actors works diligently at being outrageous, none of them has the charm or pizazz to make the movie jump to life. We have to work too hard to get to know them when what we really need is to be enchanted or surprised by at least one real personality.

Oz (Chris Klein), a shy jock who in another time might have been called a gentleman, is hampered by his own purity. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) takes advice from a classmate who is already a woman of the world. The utterly bland Jim (Jason Biggs) is embarrassed by a wooden father (Eugene Levy) who tries to help by giving him copies of Hustler Magazine. On occasion they get drunk in the vain hope that alcohol will bring forth from their uncomfortable selves something suave and non-humiliating.

Director Paul Weitz and writer Adam Herz keep things moving by frequently shifting the camera's focus from one principal to another, capping the fun with a wacky scene between Jim and Czech exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), whose innovative encounter is transmitted to the entire student body over the Internet.

For how many generations have teenagers been absorbed by clothes, sex, and each other? If you are under 17, you will probably love living in the minds of your peers as they act out your secrets. If you are older but have always wondered what really goes on in the minds of adolescent boys, you may enjoy this rather sweet-natured support group in the grips of an obsession and a deadline. Certainly you will never again think of tube socks, apple pie, or a mug of beer in the same way.

Five years from now, this group will be absorbed in marriage, children, and the jobs needed to support what they have created. But at the moment of this movie, they are drowning rather sweetly in their own awkward misery. Some day they will move from thinking about sex nearly every minute of their lives to thinking about it, as the statistics say, only every fifteen minutes. As for Hollywood, self-congratulation on splashing the screen with bathroom humor is its own form of awkward adolescence.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Counta : 498
Studioa : Universal
Rating : R
Running time : 1h35m

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