The teen sex comedy has never been the most worthy of genres. Since Porky's, it's gradually become a straight-to-video staple, inviting sneers from over-20s while disappointing its core audience with lame-o toilet gags and predictable tit-shots. American Pie has the toilet gags and tit-shots, but - amazingly - there's very little that's lame-o or predictable about it.
Firstly, it manages to be a Lad's Movie without being too patronising or offensive to its female cast. The four interlinked quest-for-sex tales involve believable female characters who aren't just there to get their kit off. Admittedly, there is a clichéd nympho-European chick thrown in for one gag, but at least the punchline's funny.
Secondly, American Pie rises above its brash, low-brow remit to relate a non-tacky feelgood riff on friendship. The main characters know this is their final year together and a sense of poignancy underlines the fact that the (relatively) responsibility-free days of raging hormones and keg parties won't last much longer. Most importantly, this senior-year romp doesn't forget to deliver the grosseries. Laxatives lead to ladies-room embarrassment in one scene and some good ol', home-baked apple pie is put to strange use in one of the most memorable episodes.
A wealth of great comedy support includes jock Stifler (Scott), whose mother is hailed as a "MILF" ("Mom I'd Like To Fuck"), awkward geek girlie Michelle (Alyson Hannigan of Buffy) who drones on about "band camp" before revealing what she really likes to do with her flute, and Jim's `understanding' dad (Levy), who gives him an ultra-embarrassing tour of pornographic literature. It may be too lewd for many, but while American Pie aims low, it manages to splat every target.
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To call it a Porky's for the '90s may be off-putting, but that label is worryingly appropriate. American Pie is so low-brow it's Neanderthal, yet it manages to make you care about the characters while you hyuk at all its juvenile japery.