Adding spice to the Pie of life

American Pie 2

Directed by J.B. Rogers

(Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Eugene Levy, Seann William Scott)

Rated: R

 

A reunion. A new adventure. One more crazy night to end the summer.

There is something appropriate about American Pie 2‘s “first summer after college.” In many ways, it parallels the story of American Pie‘s greatest fans. When the first installment hit theaters, many were finishing high school, ready to leave home. Now, that same audience returns after two years on their own, ready to catch up with the old gang.

As with any sequel, the opening catches up with the original’s characters, playing off on tributes to the first. Just as the reminiscing begins to wear thin, the new plan is unveiled: A summer at a beach house – same good friends, same good times.

And, as a major factor of American Pie 2‘s success, the same old gang is all here. Led by Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott), the stage is set for another round of mayhem.

American Pie 2 does not rely on a complex story, but on these characters that have become part of Generation Y’s culture. Each unique character returns to hold the foundation. Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) captures some of the film’s most genuine laughs – a perfect balance between the dad anyone would love to have and the dad that elicits rolled eyes. Scott’s Stifler is the embodiment of the stereotypical college male. For better or worse, Scott, and many in this film, will never escape these roles.

While American Pie 2‘s gags are set around sequences such as a lesbian encounter, awkward phone sex, a glue incident and a trip to the infamous band camp, its humor is not generated by these incidents themselves, but tailored to how these familiar and endearing characters react to these situations. The group delivers the same potent chemistry that has had audiences waiting since the first.

The soundtrack, featuring practically every pop-rock station’s lineup for the next six months, is beautifully self-aware. Roger Ebert once wrote that “popular music is a soundtrack for everyone’s autobiography.” In choosing such music, American Pie 2 knowingly links this movie to a time in one’s life. Just as American Pie was the summer after high school, filled with Dave Matthews, Blink 182 and Sugar Ray, American Pie 2 will be remembered as a college movie about those care-free days when the “real world” was only a blip on the horizon. In time, fans will not only remember the characters, but where they were at this time in their lives and, appropriately, will hear this music not as soundtrack padding, but as a link to that lost time.

For these reasons, it is almost appropriate that director J.B. Rogers infuses a bit of emotional development near the story’s conclusion. These boys and girls, whom audiences have come to love, finally grow up. Through the craziness, they find that some dreams aren’t all that’s promised. Just as Kevin’s older brother wisely advises, “You’ll start to see the whole picture.”

American Pie 2 is indeed a beautiful picture of summer craziness, good friends, sexual mishaps and, ultimately, knowing when it’s time to move on.

– Steven Snyder

 

American Pie 2 opens today in theatres nationwide.