Today! Because we’ll just tell your mother that we ate it all –
American Pie (1999)
Directed by Paul Weitz
Starring Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nichols, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Mena Suvari, Alyson Hannigan, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott (x3), Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyonne, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Chris Owen, John Cho, Molly Cheek, Casey Affleck (x2)
Going back-to-back on the well-represented year of 1999! Our eighth film from the last of the 19s, American Pie came along at just the right time for this guy. Figure, this movie gets made in one form or another every few years, with a few little twists, but this one came out squarely in the middle of my undergrad years, and so even though it’s an End of High School film, its chaotic drinking party sex comedy of the ’90s fit right in to my sensibilities.
’80s movies of the same basic structure – your Fast Times at Ridgemont Highs and the like – never really resonated with me, because they felt so unrelatable. The universal high school experience always has bits of similarity across the decades, but there’s something about it reflecting your own era. Thus, Dazed and Confused, Sixteen Candles, American Graffiti, The Breakfast Club – all good to great movies, none on this list, as they just weren’t mine. Not like American Pie.
I also couldn’t bring myself to be the guy with two American Pie films on this list, even though 2 largely holds up, and is very interchangeable. But the original is still superior – the silly, virginity-slaying plot, coupled with a bunch of seriously iconic characters – Stifler! Shitbreak! Stifler’s mom! The MILF guys! – and the genius comedy of Eugene Levy as Jim’s put upon, decidedly uncool dad, trying his best to help his son navigate the pitfalls of sex. Is this movie for everybody? No, probably not. If you like your teen comedies of the less vulgar, less gross-out variety – your She’s All Thats and Can’t Hardly Waits – you may have been turned off by the superficial extremeness of this movie, but I don’t think it’s actually as low brow as its reputation signifies.
And even though there are fully 14 films from 1999 on this list – we’ve gone through #399 Payback, #332 Phantom Menace, #279 Muppets From Space, #268 Matrix, #248 Being John Malkovich, #240 Toy Story 2, and #232 Galaxy Quest – none of this baker’s dozen +1 was nominated for Best Picture that year. I love ’99, but they got a bunch of stuff wrong at year end. Still, Green Mile, Sixth Sense, American Beauty are still pretty good, I haven’t seen The Insider in twenty years, but remember it well, and also remember hating The Cider House Rules. More on ’99 in early November!
(I don’t know who this interests, but I’ve also got a bunch of ’99 films that narrowly missed the list – Sleepy Hollow, Sweet and Lowdown, Analyze This, Big Daddy, Dogma – it had a chance of being right up there with 1992!)
Big surprise – American Pie was nominated for Best Film at the MTV Movie Awards, but nothing much from the major outlets. And while it’s an obvious one, I think we have to recognize Best Comestible Intercourse, especially considering Call Me By Your Name‘s serious attempt to steal this honor in 2017.
The uncredited Casey Affleck joins the Two-Timers, following his role in #249 Ocean’s Eleven, while Seann William Scott jumps to the Three-Timers after his work #348 Road Trip and #322 Role Models. Spotlight!