Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Froemming picked “American Pie.”
The Movie: “American Pie”
Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas
Director: Adam Herz
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Jim, Oz, Finch and Kevin are four friends who make a pact that before they graduate they will all lose their virginity. The hard job now is how to reach that goal by prom night. Whilst Oz begins singing to grab attention and Kevin tries to persuade his girlfriend, Finch tries any easy route of spreading rumors and Jim fails miserably. Whether it is being caught on top of a pie or on the Internet, Jim always ends up with his trusty sex advice from his father. Will they achieve their goal of getting laid by prom night? Or will they learn something much different?
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61 percent
Froemming: Last week, Brown and I learned the valuable lesson of conform or die with “Cool Hand Luke.” It is a classic cinematic masterpiece that will forever be remembered.
This week, I decided to head to a franchise I think both of us would have preferred to forget. We hopped in the old time machine and traveled back to the late 1990s. A time when frosted tips, blink-182 and rampant misogyny ruled the world with an iron fist.
I went with “American Pie,” a movie that saw what “Porky’s,” “Revenge of the Nerds” and other teen comedies that came before it did and asked “Yeah, but what if we made an underdog story about the popular kids?”
Now, this came out around my senior year in high school. People were telling me how hilarious this movie was, and how I should see it. I probably ended up renting it and sat for the next hour-and-a-half wondering why the hell this movie existed. I probably never spoke to those who suggested it to me again.
And, spoiler!, almost two decades later I am still asking that very question. Only this time I have myself to blame for sitting through this instead of those dingdongs I went to high school with.
Brown, as I prepare to regale you with tales of flutes and band camp, what are your first thoughts?
Brown: So this movie came out I think between my seventh- and eight-grade year of school and I didn’t have a great grasp of the jokes.
Froemming: Wait, there’s jokes in this?
Brown: Sure. The joke was everyone thinking this was a relatable teen movie.
I remember the first time seeing this movie and kind of getting the sex jokes but not really laughing. I legit remember the first time I laughed out loud was toward the end when Sherman pisses his pants, because I’m a simpleton.
I also saw a couple of the sequels and let me assure you, Froemming, they don’t get better.
It’s probably been a decade since I’ve seen this movie and OOOOHH boy, this movie is PAINFULLY ‘90s.
Plus, like Jay and Silent Bob, every time I see Jason Biggs, I think “Hey, it’s the pie (REACTED)!”
That bums me out because I enjoy “Saving Silverman.” But not because he was in it.
So Froemming, I’ll let you lead off this bodily fluid-tainted beer of a movie off.
Froemming: I am shocked to learn this takes place in Michigan, because this most definitely looks like California. And we meet our popular kids, who are the heroes of this underdog story, much like Trump becoming president. And I despise both.
Here are our characters:
- Jim Levenstein, who (REDACTED) a pie in this.
- Chris “Oz” Ostreicher, what happens when the movie “The Red Pill” becomes a person.
- Kevin Myers, who dates human train wreck Tara Reid.
- Paul Finch, someone who is supposed to be the nerd here, but is just a pretentious theater kid.
- Steve Stifler, who we all know is really Country Mac and who would go on to do great things until his untimely death in Philadelphia.
All of these characters are horrible, horrible people. We witness countless #MeToo moments from them. The way they dress are still the Bro Uniform of date rapists in colleges to this day.
And they are all virgins. This is their driving force: To unsatisfy women in the sack before they graduate.
Brown: Oz is the worst of all of them.
For example: When Jim tells the group about being caught masturbating at the start of the movie via scrambled porn, Oz says “The only illegal channels should be the all-women ones.”
There’ll be others I bring up later, because he will absolutely roofie a girl at Michigan State. Yes, I know that’s nothing to joke about, but I’m not joking.
Also, Finch is an asshole. Who brings a Thermos of coffee to school? Assholes. Assholes do that. Also, he makes sure everyone knows it’s a mochaccino for no other reason than to be MORE pretentious.
Froemming: The only thing I related to in this movie is Finch not being able to take a shit at school. I was the same way in high school. I would literally leave and walk a half-mile to Media Play if I had to go. The toilets at Tech High School in St. Cloud were disgusting.
Brown: Explain the logic of trading in one public bathroom for another.
Froemming: One was actually cleaned by people.
Now, yeah the movie starts with Jim watching scrambled porn, which is from a bygone era when one could actually do that. But, we know he has internet in his room, so I have no idea why he is watching the scrambled stuff when he could easily watch the real stuff on his desktop. I’m guessing Jim is just a moron.
Another clue as to how stupid Jim is (or just disgusting) is he doesn’t even turn the porn off when his mom goes into his room. How (REDACTED) creepy was that?
Brown: You have one hand handle business and another hand on the LAST button on the remote so you can change it immediately. It’s not rocket science, Jim.
So early on, we’re whisked away to a party at Stifler’s house and I am REAL, REAL worried about these kids. At one point, Stifler gets excited for taking his sixth shot of the night. This is early in the party. This kid is a raging alcoholic at 17-18 years old. That is harrowing.
Froemming: You and I had very different high school years.
Yeah, at this party everyone is binge drinking and having a great time, which is upsetting Ma Brown over here.
Brown: God forbid I want these kids to have fully functioning livers by the time they head to college.
Froemming: Anyway, yeah the thing I am more concerned with here is the very real sense that sexual assault is going to be rampant in a few hours. Just by the way the dudes talk, I feared for every woman at this party.
And we see quite a few moments of this. I feel like Kevin pressures Tara Reid to perform sexual acts on him that she is not into. Which happens, and I felt gross watching it.
And he finishes in a keg cup with beer in it. This…is very baffling to me. There has to be a sock somewhere right?
But no, he splunks right into a beer cup. And Stiffler kicks them out of the bedroom so he can, um, was this movie produced by Harvey Weinstein, because I feel Stiffler is lifting from the Weinstein playbook here?
Stifler ends up drinking said beer.
Brown: This movie is absolutely what middle schoolers think high school is like.
Meanwhile, back to dipshit Oz, he is on a date with a college girl and actually uses the line “Suck me, beautiful.”
I’m perfectly OK with Chris Klein’s career being pretty much these movies and the “Rollerball” remake after saying lines like that.
Froemming: Oz looks much older than the other guys. Is this a Fred O’Bannion situation from “Dazed and Confused?” Just keeps failing his senior year? Because he looks older than the college girl he is on the date with.
Brown: He’s at least Steve Buscemi in “30 Rock.”
Anyways, the next day, Jim, Oz, Kevin and Finch are all lamenting that they’re bad with women and their classmate Sherman apparently had sex at the party.
A couple giveaways here that Sherman didn’t get laid. A. The girl he “hooked up” with gave him a hug the next day. In the words of one of my longtime friends about the night she met her husband: “We (REDACTED), we can kiss.” And B. Dude calls himself the Sherminator. None of these things a sexy time equals.
But being single-minded douchebags who can’t just be happy for someone else, the four make a pact that they will lose their virginity by the end of prom. I was kind of hoping one of them (most likely Jim) would slash their palm to make a blood brothers oath like Alan in “The Hangover.”
Now, when the guys hash out the rules of this arrangement, it’s… troubling. Froemming, I’ll let you take it from here.
Froemming: Yeah, I was so shocked I actually messaged you right away because I thought I might have been hallucinating, what from the staying in all the time and all.
One rule is they can’t pay for sex. Which, I’d rather they go to a sex worker than coerce some poor woman into this disgusting pact of theirs.
The second caveat, which caused me to alert Brown, was the sex has to be consensual.
They have to make a point that raping a woman will not count for this pact.
Burn this movie. Burn it with fire.
Brown: Oz then goes on to explain to Jim that third base feels “like warm apple pie.” The next scene, he explains his means of seducing a choir girl named Heather that “All you have to do is ask them questions and listen to what they have to say and shit.”
Going back to apples, if I had a fatality I could issue to Oz, it’d be the one Hannibal Buress invented: Throwing apples at Oz until he’s dead.
And because we need to embarrass Jim more and shoehorn Eugene Levy into his stereotypical Jewish dad role, we have Jim’s dad having the sex talk with him while giving him a bevy of porno mags.
Now, this scene made me laugh because I recall Jason Biggs doing an interview about the porno mag scene where they opened one of them to a rather graphic photo and you clearly see him trying to hide his laughter while Eugene Levy just ad-libs his way through it.
Feel bad that this is the role you always seem to play, Eugene, but damned if you aren’t good at it.
Froemming: This role probably set him for life with money. Now he can just do the much better Christopher Guest movies and whatnot.
Now, if we didn’t think this movie could get more disturbing, enter Casey Affleck! Which, I mean, if you are the problematic Affleck brother, there are some serious issues here.
Kevin and Tara Reid are having difficulties. She thinks he just wants to have sex all the time and Kevin just wants to have sex all the time. He is faced with a situation: Tell her he loves her (you know, lie) to get laid or to learn the art of foreplay to get laid.
He goes for the latter. With the help of Affleck, who tells him were this creepy sex journal is hidden at school. And he finds it all right, and touches this crusty (REDACTED) thing with his bare hands.
I’d like to think Kevin has not faired well with COVID-19.
And with the aid of this creepy, creepy porn journal that is somehow more disturbing than the one in “Joker,” he learns the ancient ways to…I have no idea, I could not see what was in it because my mind was recoiling about all the crud on the pages.
Brown: I guess take solace in the fact that if such a book existed today, it would be on a flash drive and not a homemade book where pages are SURELY stuck together.
Next, Oz is back at choir trying to be sensitive in order to get Heather. They have some “Breakfast Club”-style conversation about their misconceptions at school, only “American Pie” is a book for dummies while “The Breakfast Club” is Shakespeare by comparison.
And now, Jim (REDACTED) a pie! Looking back at it now, the pie scene, as infamous as it is, offers no purpose other than being a sight gag. You “Family Guy”-d your movie!
Also, I’m debating which is a more gross way of food-assisted masturbation: Jim and the pie or Jay from “Big Mouth” using lentil soup in plastic bags in his pillow.
Froemming: Finch, meanwhile, has started a rumor campaign about how *sigh* large he is. Also, why is he golfing all the time? Is he trying to be the aloof Chevy Chase character in “Caddyshack?” He has no charisma, so that can’t be it.
So we get that, and now Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) the foreign exchange student, wants to study with Jim. But she has to change at his place after ballet practice and this is when the movie gives us Nadia’s #MeToo moment. It is very, very problematic.
Brown, I will let you take it away.
Brown: Look, at this point we’ve had stupid, juvenile fun. But this is the point where we get downright criminal.
Before Nadia comes over, Jim sets up his big-ass webcam and sends a link to the live feed to his friends who, I should remind everyone, are on computers where they could find porn at comical speeds.
So when Nadia does come by, Jim lets her change in his room. Thinking she has privacy, he undresses. Then she starts posing in the mirror and eventually starts exploring her body and masturbates to Jim’s stash of pornos. All the while, she thinks she’s in privacy. Instead, Jim’s friends, and eventually Jim himself, are watching the live feed that is awfully decent in quality considering it’s 1998 and unlikely high-speed internet hit Michigan by that point.
But because Jim is a moron, he somehow sent the link to the entire student body of his high school and also, blink-182 for reasons.
Froemming: Should be noted the band members would be in their mid-20s at this point watching high-school kids attempt to bump uglies. Which feels like it should be illegal.
And this scene has made me paranoid that guests might be masturbating when they visit my home, so no more house guests again.
Brown: Coaxed by his friends, Jim goes home and walks into the room where Nadia is pleasuring herself. Instead of being horrified and leaving and (eventually) going to the police, Nadia, being European and therefore highly sexualized because this movie was written by a middle schooler, tells Jim to strip. Which he does, because Shannon Elizabeth is an attractive woman. But when things seem to be heading towards foreplay and sex, Jim prematurely ejaculates because, well, he’s a virgin who’s never been down this road before. He gets another chance before Nadia leaves but somehow ejaculates again. Give the man credit: He’s got a refractory period I can only describe as mutant.
He’s also a monster who needs to go to prison for filming an unaware woman while naked and performing a sexual act. Instead, he’s the victim because everyone saw him shoot his load.
(REDACTED) you, movie.
Froemming: How is he still in school? That was sent out to everyone!
Brown: RIGHT?! If the justice system is going to fail Nadia, the school district needs to expel this devient for being a sex offender. Instead, Jim is going to prom with band nerd Michelle, whose entire personality in this movie is talking about band camp.
In a state that Ted Nugent calls home, the kids of “American Pie” are the worst Michigan has to offer.
Froemming: Meanwhile, Oz has the girl from “American Beauty” smitten with his glee club singing, but she overheard Stifler making off-color comments, so she won’t go to prom with him. She dodged a bullet here.
Jim, now a pariah for the wrong reason, has to ask Michelle to prom. She is in band and for some reason everyone hates her? I have no idea why.
Brown: Because she’s different, Froemming. That’s the movie’s entire logic.
Froemming: I had a much different high school experience than most I think. Nothing like this happened in my orbit. Then again, I was busy with…
…and that is what I was up to in high school. That felt good to get off my chest.
Brown: What an eye-opening admission about your early life, Froemming. Thank you for sharing that with all of us.
So Kevin is verbally beating his girlfriend whom he can’t admit he loves into sex at prom. Jim has a date and Oz is getting to know Heather better before he inevitably buys Spanish fly. There’s the matter of Finch, who has women salivating over him thanks to the rumors around school, which were spread by everyone’s friend Jessica, who Finch paid $200 to spread said rumors.
First, (REDACTED) this town where a teen has no problem procuring $200 to pay someone to make them sound cooler. Next, Jessica is a supporting character in this story and is seen as, what, the sexual guru of all these people? Honestly, I really, really doubt Jessica has had sex because of the way she acts in this damn movie.
Froemming: I just realized Jessica and Jim are both in “Orange is the New Black” and any love I had for that show has now vanished.
Brown: Haven’t seen it. If social distancing hasn’t gotten me to watch it, I don’t know what will.
Anyways, one of the rumors being spread about Finch is that he kick Stifler’s ass. So, Stifler gets back at Finch by filling his mochaccino with a laxative, forcing him to take a poop in a school bathroom. And even more embarrassing, it’s the girls’ bathroom…
“Dumb and Dumber” did it better.
Froemming: Maybe it is because I enjoyed Seann William Scott as Country Mac in “It’s Always Sunny” and my disdain for Finch knows no bounds, but I couldn’t help but find happiness in his suffering here.
Anywho, so that is why Finch is stag at the prom. He pooped really loud in the women’s bathroom. Apparently this was pretty funny in 1999. Limp Bizkit was also popular in 1999. So, you know, it was a real (REDACTED) era in time.
So all of these losers are at prom, alone except I think for Kevin. But his date is Tara Reid and if my casual knowledge of her is any clue, his night is pure hell already.
Oh, Oz skips the song competition to play lacrosse. Which makes this officially the whitest movie I have ever seen.
Brown: But, thanks to love or something, Oz runs out at halftime of his lacrosse game to get to the state singing competition. Because if they take first at state, they’ll go to regionals and maybe sectionals…
Question: Oz had every intention to just play the lacrosse game. But when he leaves to go to the choir concert, he has his full choir outfit ready. … How? I mean, one of the things was a embroidered blazer with the school logo. You can’t just ask some schlub in the crowd for his jacket.
Froemming: Because this movie (REDACTED) sucks, Brown. That’s why.
Brown: Thanks for going Michael Bay-to-Ben Affleck on me again, Froemming.
Froemming: Now we are at prom with these (REDACTED) losers and future Stephen Millers, and they are all bummed.
Brown: Quickly, did you go to prom, Froemming?
Froemming: No, I was busy…
…so I had to miss it.
Brown: Hey man, I get it. I do.
Now, I went to prom my junior and senior year. The school this movie takes place at seems awfully big. At least bigger than my high school of 700-800 people at the time. A school that size, you don’t typically do prom in the high-school gym. And yet, this movie is at the high-school gym with the shittiest decor and band I’ve seen in a teen movie. I know that’s what they were going for (Amazon told me as much). They could have gone off-site. Lord knows everyone in this town has money. Stifler has a party bus for the afterparty, man!
So yeah, just wanted to say that even a prom I found unrelatable in “American Pie.”
Froemming: I found every aspect (minus Finch not pooping at school) unrelatable.
And yeah, Stifler has another party because his mom is a drunk and he can do whatever he wants.
And Kevin and Tara Reid have the weirdest “losing their virginity” scene. Like, no chemistry between these two, it felt clinical. Sex for the first time is awkward, but man if mine would have been like this, I would never have had it again. This sex is somehow more off-putting than the weird porn stuff Brown is into that he can only get in these weird magazines off the internet.
Brown: You type “Brazilian fart porn” into Google once and you never live it down the rest of your life.
And you’re right. Kevin and Tara Reid have no chemistry because Kevin doesn’t love her and Tara is finally realizing that AND knows she has Van Wilder in her future. Honestly, McLovin losing his virginity was less awkward.
Also, Oz and Heather do it (maybe?) in the lake house because their romance is like a drug-store romance novel.
Froemming: More like a drug-store romance between two alcoholics in the alley behind the place.
Brown: As for Jim, it turns out that Michelle once stuck a flute in her vagina and is a nyphomaniac of some sort because God forbid this movie couldn’t just make her a regular person. Turns out, she only went with Jim because she wanted to bump uglies with anyone and he just happened to ask. Good on you, Michelle. You could have done better but good on you for getting what you wanted.
Also, Finch cements his teenage alcoholism by drinking scotch all night with Stifler’s mom and having sex with said mother.
Also, we didn’t mention that this movie birthed the term MILF (Mom I’d like to (REDACTED)). Who birthed it? (REDACTED) Harold from “Harold & Kumar go to White Castle.”
Froemming: Next day, the gang eats breakfast and plots their future. And I sat on my couch, envisioning in my head canon, that all of them are struck down by lightning. Making it a very great ending to an otherwise flawed film.
But we can’t have nice things, can we.
Brown: The restaurant’s oven springing a gas leak and killing everyone inside would have also been a suitable ending.
Froemming: But no. They somehow made sequels, spinoffs and other nonsense to this craptacular piece of shit.
Oh, Jim strips on webcam for Nadia at the end too. Because the world is a cruel place and mediocrity rules us all.
Brown, this movie does not deserve a pun. Let’s put an end to this madness in recommendations.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: No, I’m good. For teen sex movies, I’d rather go with “Superbad” or “Porky’s” over this and “Porky’s” has plenty of it’s own problems. Walk away from “American Pie.”