American Pie

Over Under - Large

The 90s were a dark decade for fun stuff aimed at teens and tweens. Grunge music and gangsta rap ruled the airwaves, and young people were into acting sullen and disturbed. Any entertainment that could be considered kiddie or corporate was rejected outright in favor of culture stuff that was gritty and dark. But, by 1999, change was in the air. The prevailing trends of the decade had run their course, boy bands and Britney Spears started showing up on the radio, and the first movie that attempted to bring back the raunchy teenage sex comedy, American Pie, became a runaway success that launched a long-lived, multi-film franchise. Kurt Cobain was dead, long live Stifler. In 2005 Noah Baumbach’s The Squid and the Whale got a lot of attention in the world of indie and art films, much of it due to the performance of its lead actor, a young kid named Jesse Eisenberg. Over the next few years Eisenberg’s fame rose as he accrued another handful of indie credits, and eventually his career hit a peak when he anchored a mainstream horror comedy in Zombieland, and then got to work with one of the biggest directors in the business, David Fincher, on The Social Network. After Eisenberg played Zuckerberg it was official, the guy was a bonafide celebrity. But, despite his fame, one of his earliest films, 2002’s Roger Dodger, still hasn’t been seen by very many people, and very rarely gets brought up even in film geek circles, […]

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Drinking Games

Thirteen years ago, the small film American Pie revolutionized teen sex comedies. It didn’t necessarily do anything different, but for the first time, the teen sex involved the internet. Now, more than a dozen years later, the cast crawls from their (mostly) languishing careers to attend their 13th high school reunion. And they made a movie of it, not-so-cleverly called American Reunion. Anyone who has been to their own high school reunion knows that these things shouldn’t be attempted without at least a little bit of alcohol. That’s the best way to enjoy this film, but not too much, unless you want to miss Ali Cobrin’s best moments in the film.

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema…tequila is my lady! I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but head honcho Brian Salisbury has been changing up the recipe round these parts. It all started with Kindergarten Cop and continued with 5 Courses Not Offered at Rock ‘n’ Roll High School. I’ve stepped into the master’s kitchen this week to continue the new cooking style. We’ll look at a film of dubious quality, point out flaws, missed opportunities and shining moments alike and, as per usual, offer up a delicious snake to go along with the film. This week’s target? American Pie.

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Culture Warrior

Way back in the summer of 2004, on the heels of the great success of I Love the 80s and (later) I Love the 70s, VH1 tested the bounds and justifications of the nostalgia market by releasing the initial ten-part I Love the 90s. Instead of simply reflecting upon the most memorable and oft-canonized popular culture products and national news events of the 1970s and 1980s (two decades whose iconography had become ever more apparent, stylized, and parodied during its reappropriation in late 90s/early 00s pop culture), VH1 instead attempted (perhaps unsuccessfully) to create a trend rather than merely follow the typical, perhaps “natural” cycle of nostalgia. Because I Love the 90s aired only a few years after the actual 90s ended, VH1 situated the early 21st century – a time that ostensibly marked a major temporal shift but (save for 9/11) had yet to be self-defined – as a time that uniquely necessitated an immediate reflection on how to understand the 20th century, even the years of that century that were not so long ago. The experiment was both engaging and bizarre. By 2004, the early 90s had come into stark, VH1-friendly self-definition. Yes, we could all collectively make fun of Joey Lawrence, Pogs, oversize flannel, and Kevin Costner’s accent in Robin Hood, and share in the memories and irony-light criticisms therein with Michael Ian Black and Wendy the Snapple Lady. However, by the time the show reached 1997-99, I Love the 90s seemed less like a program banking […]

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The Reject Report - Large

Happy Easter, everybody. It’s the time of year for giving, for hollow, chocolate bunnies, and for Stifler to make some crude remark just before ingesting something disgusting. That’s right, it’s time for a reunion with the American Pie crew, and, like it or not, the movie is going to come out on top. It doesn’t matter that Katniss and her Hunger Games are still shooting strong. Never mind that the 2nd biggest movie of all time is getting a 3D update. All that’s moot when it comes to the financial strength behind dick jokes and bare breasts. So grab a chair, and heat up that warm, apple cobbler, check out this week’s Reject Report, and never let go. Not like Rose, though. She totally let go.

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It’s easy to deride American Reunion for being a needless sequel or cash grab. After all, we’re thirteen years on from the first film and in that time we’ve had bad direct sequels, trips to band camps, and straight to DVD spin-offs (which honestly aren’t as bad as you think they’d be). Fortunately, writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are at least somewhat aware of the uphill battles they face in making this movie palatable to both new audiences and those of us who remember MILFs and pie sex from the good old days of ’99. For example, the film takes place in 2012 and their 13 Year Reunion. There’s a joke about missing the tenth, which is just a fun little nod to the absurdity of revisiting this franchise now. Returning in large roles is the entirety of the male cast: Jason Biggs as Jim, Seann William Scott as Stifler, Chris Klein as Oz, Thomas Ian Nichols as Kevin, Eddie Kaye Thomas as Finch, and Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad. Also returning in various capacities are Alyson Hannigan as Michelle, Mina Suvari as Heather, John Cho as MILF Guy #2 and…yYou know what, pretty much everyone is back, okay?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of movie news and editorial links that will certainly be living long and prospering. Both because it is what our super hip Commander-in-Chief commands of us and because of you, the faithful reader. We begin this evening with a shot of President Obama and Star Trek‘s Nichelle Nichols in the Oval Office, giving up  the “live long and prosper”  salute that originated in the first episode of Star Trek: The Original Series’ second season. The two racial barrier-breakers met recently, with the photo following from Ms. Nichols’ Twitter feed. It’s room for hope, you know, that the Star Trek future will eventually come true. Also, Obama’s a nerd.

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I know that there’s been a million straight to video abominations with the American Pie name attached to them, but we shouldn’t hold that against American Reunion. This sequel has all of the original cast members of American Pie in place, and this time it seems that enough time might have passed since their senior year of high school for there to be new, worthwhile stories to tell with them. Actually, when the first trailer for this film hit, it felt pretty dang nice to see the whole gang back together again, and I don’t think that I’m the only one who felt that way, because since then I’ve seen numerous people showing it off to friends on smart phones and laptops in public. Nostalgia is a very powerful thing. Now there’s a second trailer for the film out, and call me crazy, but doesn’t it seem like the magic is already wearing off? The first trailer seemed to focus a little more on the fact that the characters were now married, had children, and were struggling with new responsibilities. That looked kind of interesting to me. But this new one seems to be much more focused on raunchy wiener and poo-poo jokes and, from where I’m sitting, watching Seann William Scott wear a Hawaiian shirt and playing the loud-mouthed, prankster hornball while being old enough to be a dad several times over comes off as really…depressing. Maybe even as depressing as your actual real high school reunion.

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Although the real question keeping Hollywood awake in 2012 is “Does Winston Wolf clean up dead hookers on Yom Kippur?”, the fine folks over at HitFix have put forth a handful of queries of varying importance which filmmakers, studios and fans might have on their minds this year. It’s their 15 Questions Keeping Hollywood Awake in 2012. With concerns from Lindsay Lohan’s possible last chance to Joss Whedon’s first real shot with The Avengers, it’s an intriguing list that might prove 2012 to be both an endlessly fascinating and completely irrelevant year in the stories behind the movies. Will Smith, Found Footage, Hunger Games, Dark Knight Rises and more. HitFix has questions, and here are the answers:

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As movie-goers, we are all familiar with that excruciating moment when you are watching a movie and the action is so horribly uncomfortable that you actually feel the need to cover your own face. It’s this nonsensically powerful moment when you actually feel embarrassed for a fictional character because of some terribly awkward scenario that you’d rather watch a murder than bare witness to. It’s like a horror movie almost – it’s that same turtle reaction where you just want to shrink away. And like horror, it’s either done really well or it’s abused, which is why I want to share with you the films I think did it the very best. Oh, and if you are wondering why I only picked 9 – it’s the most awkward number I could think of.

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How do you score beach partying high school girls (played by 25-year-olds)? Pretend to love everything Twilight. These and other important life lessons are brought to us all by the new trailer for American Reunion. I was as surprised as anyone to see that their teaser trailer was, no joke, actually funny. It had a sense of humor and nostalgia about what made the comedy work, and proved that it could work even though we were all way past the awkward adolescence. At least numerical. The first full (bro-centric) trailer offers a look at getting the band back together, and it’s honestly kind of nice to see (most) everyone back in their old element. Writer/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have clearly instilled some life into an otherwise empty cash grab, but there’s also something hauntingly desperate about going back to the well that’s mirrored by going back to your high school cafetorium to drink bad punch and get jiggy with people of the past.

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The biggest question raised by American Reunion is whether a teen sex comedy can be translated to the world of adults. The second biggest is whether a tired franchise that’s been treated like a ten-cent prostitute can redeem itself. In the most surprising of ways, this teaser trailer proves that both have an odds on chance. It’s more of a set-up/punchline style short film delivered in a little over a minute, and it’s unclear if any of this will actually be in the movie, but the fact that Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have created something this funny with a sock is a great omen for the rest of the project. Check it out for yourself:

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It’s a shame that Chris Weitz may call it quits on directing this early. While he says below that he may not be done yet, there was something sad about him saying directing just isn’t that “fun” for him anymore. As Weitz pointed out, the news of his possible retirement didn’t quite rank up there with all the crying old ladies Steven Soderbergh got when he announced his a few-years-off retirement, but after Twilight: New Moon, could you blame some people for not protesting? Had the news come out after his latest film was released, A Better Life, there would have been much more disappointment to the idea. If anything good came out of us having to sit through New Moon, Weitz got to make a modest character drama that we don’t see too often. After The Golden Compass (a film he’s publicly called a failure multiple times) and New Moon, it seemed like the director had turned to big-budgeted commerce driven projects, rather than continuing in making great dramas, like About a Boy. But, as he says below, unless you don’t carry enough clout from doing films like Twilight, getting a studio drama like this off the ground wouldn’t be easy. Here’s what director Chris Weitz had to say about leaving filmmaking behind, finding emotional authenticity, and whether or not making A Better Life gave him a brighter outlook on directing.

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Although certain politicians and even scientists will suggest otherwise, most agree our basic human desire for sex remains pretty unchanged. Over the centuries we’ve acknowledged that ladies like it just as much as the men folk, both sexes can be completely uninterested, and there’s also the possibility that same sex lovers getting down and dirty isn’t, in fact, dirty. Every new generation accepts something as tame that the previous generation thinks taboo. My mother finds the practice of bondage troubling, but the idea is ordinary to me. Whereas I don’t quite understand her fascination with the word “slutpuppy” because that’s just ooky. I’m not saying one generation is better than the other, I’m more curious about how we got to the place we are. I am pretty in tune with the going-ons of Gwen, so I have no problem pinpointing a lot of my sexual identity development happening simultaneously with the films and TV that I watched in the 90s. Thinking back, the 90s stand out to me as a hodgepodge decade when it came to sex in film. We had the renewal of romantic melodramas as a reaction to the social commentary-filled erotic thrillers of the 80s, the depiction of realistic sex in comedies, and the rise in popularity of rape culture. Of course all these themes wouldn’t have been possible without the decades before them, but something happened in the 90s that made sex seem pleasurable through love, humor, and invasion.

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Last week I explored how emotionally and physically painful losing one’s virginity is for the ladies. The women discussed all held on to their v-cards like prized pies at a county fair, and when they gave it up disaster often struck. Be it mass suicide, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, or (worse yet) feelings, each movie addressed this entirely relatable coming-of-age experience. While many of us look back at our first time through rose-colored glasses, it was watching movies growing up that helped us come to terms with what happens to our bodies, feelings, and sexual futures. Thank god, for every female virginity tale, there are female sex positive films, family friendly fantasies, and Golden Years send-offs. But what about the boys? Unlike women centric virginity films, the boy’s story is often considered awkward, comical, and down-right head slap inducing. Why are boys never given as much respect in sexual awakening stories as the girls, who consequentially are considered fragile glass eggs. I could sit here and list off all the hilarious comedies where a terribly geeky boy not only kisses but fucks the girl of his dream, but I think there is something deeper to explore in these movies.  Losing our virginity is a push into adulthood, an emotional journey for some and anticlimactic for others. But no matter what sex for the first time only makes us want it more.

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The American Pie franchise has been ridden hard and put away wet. The brand name has been slapped on no fewer than four atrociously average teen sex comedies that took low-budget laughs and tacked on a semi-emotional ending. There’s nothing wrong with those movies, but they’re a dozen rungs down the ladder from what American Pie was. Now that there’s an American Reunion in the works for the entire main cast, there’s now a rumored (spoilery) plot and character synopsis out there. It would be easy to call it moronic. Instead, it’s more interesting to notice how the nostalgia of the first film has been swapped out for pop culture references.

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Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Eugene Levy, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Jennifer Coolidge. That list of names is eerie. The adults have their own long, strange comedy trips, but the rest of it sounds like a Where Are They Now roster. Not one young actor made it out of the American Pie movies alive? Seann William Scott comes the closest to surviving, but everyone else is relegated to middling indie work or complete obscurity. Hell, I’m not even sure tabloids will run topless pictures of Tara Reid anymore. That’s how bad it’s gotten. Context aside, all of those names will most likely come together for another installment in the American Pie franchise – a franchise that seems to have 3 movies in it, but really has 7 counting all the direct-to-video content with the brand’s name on it. All of this to point out the obvious: that bringing these characters back is tired. According to The Hollywood Reporter, American Reunion has got Paul and Chris Weitz in producer jobs, and sees Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay team Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg writing and directing. That’s all solid talent, so it’ll be interesting if they can take meat that’s been sitting out for a week and make a meal out of it. Hopefully it hasn’t turned rancid before it hits the pan. It also might be an oversight, but I can’t help but notice Alyson Hannigan and Shannon Elizabeth’s names missing from the […]

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“I don’t understand the concept of bad masturbation,” is how Rob Hunter responded to me pitching this list, and he’s right. No one should understand that concept unless they have the tragic disease known as Sandpaper Hands. However, there is a certain challenge in filming someone masturbating that separates the men from the boys, and the women from the girls. Thus, while bad masturbation may be unfathomable, a bad masturbation scene is easy to imagine. “It is not enough to be abstinent with other people, you also have to be be abstinent alone. The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery, so you can’t masturbate without lust,” is how Senate-seat-seeker Christine O’Donnell responded to an interviewer discussing pro-abstinence groups and their mission not going far enough. These cultural phenomena are colliding in an explosive way. So, in honor of Ms. O’Donnell, we’d like to share the lust in our hearts and a few great masturbation scenes on film.

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Is it possible to write a full article about the portrayal of bathrooms in cinema? Yes. Yes it is.

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No more straight to DVD let-downs promising unrated bacchanalia but delivering nothing but boobs and bodily fluids. No more casts featuring nothing but unknowns and a lonely Eugene Levy. Nope… the American Pie gang is heading back to theaters.

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published: 12.23.2014
B+
published: 12.22.2014
C-
published: 12.19.2014
A-


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