by Greg Muskewitz
American Pie 2 is mostly reheated leftovers, with gags stretched-out in hopes to top those of the first. Being a sequel, the certain sameness that went on to gross (out?!) over $100-million is certainly prevalent here even though the effort is more like the follow-up to a TV pilot.American Pie was an overrated comedy that was admittedly funny to begin with, but blow out of proportion in terms of how funny. It had some indelible moments, but nothing that could be considered a teen-classic. Even last year’s raucous comedy Road Trip was a funnier excursion. However, inasmuch as the gags of the first in this franchise may have reached for some excessively gross-out moments doesn’t mean that the sequel will continue to lower itself further. But the real question is, would it still have chosen that avenue had the MPAA not cracked down so hard on R-rated teen flicks? Not to give you the impression that American Pie 2 is a classy, mature, clean comedy — for what it omits in perverted acts, it makes up for in language and nudity. It is amazing, though, how much of an influence the MPAA has had in their crackdown, and how quick the studios (foremost) and the filmmakers (secondary) have acquiesced to the Big Brothered-parental behest. It has not prevented teens from seeing, hearing or learning anything that cannot be found on the Internet or elsewhere, but — and I don’t know how truly “worrisome” this really is — it has tampered with certain visions that are being forced to be homogenize the filmmakers’ products. The same cast all returns, beginning with Jim’s (Jason Biggs) “just friendly goodbye sex” with a fellow student. As the previews spoiled, not me, it’s blundered when both party’s parents show up for some coitus interruptus. The sequel gravitates towards the male characters, the same core group of friends, but makes a more definite demarcation from the returning female half, with the exception of Alyson Hannigan who has her time nearly doubled. One wonders if the afterthought treatment of the returning gals, who have had career boasts since the original (namely Mena Suvari and Shannon Elizabeth), have prevented them from taking a larger part. The isolation of Elizabeth’s character as opposed to the interaction of the rest, is only further evidence to reiterate the possibility. Original directors Chris and Paul Weisz are the biggest changes in returning staff, now handing the reigns over to J.B. Rogers, who directed the très lackluster Say It Isn’t So. It might not surprise to see the Farrelly Brothers alum feature pranks like the accidental use of crazy glue over lubricant for masturbation, or having the guys pressured into groping and making-out with each other in order to have two young women copy what they do, etc. (Strike two for Seann William Scott, who formerly made out with his male co-star Ashton Kutcher in Dude, Where’s my Car?) Yet there are still some good moments that come out of it, for example when Chris Klein and Mena Suvari attempt phone sex, it isn’t Seann William Scott’s eavesdropping that’s funny, but rather the interruption from call-waiting. More or less, the sequel hits you the same way as the first did, so it is an easy measure of whether these are friendly or enemy shores. Again, Biggs follows as a Ben Stiller, Jr. with utter humiliation after utter humiliation; again Natasha Lyonne is way underused; again Hannigan is a major nerd (lowered a couple notches maybe); again Eugene Levy is a separate laugh entity; and again Jennifer Coolidge is just nasty! Oh, and again, Adam Hertz scripts. On the other hand, Elizabeth’s Czech accent has changed, and Tara Reid’s acting has regressed even more from earlier. I think that finally, this is the last sequel of the summer.
"A whole lot of agains microwaved and served up."
With Eddie Kaye Thomas, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Chris Owen, Eli Marienthal, and a cameo by Casey Affleck.[Redeemable.]
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5351&reviewer=172
originally posted: 08/17/01 02:04:45