American Pie 2 (15)

Review by Jack Foley

PREPARE yourself, dudes! The team behind such cringe-inducing embarrassments as a teenager masturbating into some home cooking has served up a second slice of sordid shenanigans that are virtually guaranteed to gross audiences out.

American Pie 2 reunites Jim, Nadia, Stifler and co for another outrageous rites-of-passage trip towards adulthood which, while not as fresh as the original, certainly holds more than its fair share of belly laughs. Set one year after their original misdemeanours, the sequel finds the guys - Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Stifler (Seann William Scott), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) - back home after their first year at college desperate to "take the next step". Intent on partying their way through summer, they rent a beach house, vowing to celebrate their friendship and attract the babes, but find the usual obstacles - ie, women and sexual insecurity - still littering their path.

For Jim, in particular, the previous year has seen very little `action'. But with the prospect of a return visit from Shannon Elizabeth's sexy Nadia looming large on his horizon, the inept teenager enlists the help of Alyson Hannigan's Michelle ("This one time, at band camp") to get some tips on the not-so-fine art of love making.

Oz, on the other hand, is content with his girlfriend, Heather (Mena Suvari), and spends most of the movie waiting for her return from abroad, while Kevin is forced to accept the fact that his relationship with Vicky (Tara Reid) has moved on and that the two can only be friends.

Also struggling to move on is Finch, still hopelessly attracted to Stifler's mum, while Stifler himself has simply become more vulgar and outrageous than ever before, bragging endlessly about each sexual conquest. Thrown into the melting pot are a couple of lesbians in the house the guys are decorating, Jim's dad (played brilliantly again by the excellent Eugene Levy) and the summer party to end all parties.

And it is both the movie's strength and weakness that all the elements which made the first film so successful are back in abundance - ie, bodily fluid jokes, sex farce and cast (in its entirety). While it is certainly great fun to be back in the company of the Pie guys, very litte has, in fact, changed. No one really has moved on, not even the writers (the Weitz's). The first 20 minutes of the movie play largely scene for scene with the original - with variations on the gross out themes - which brings with it a feeling of over-familiarity and, to a certain extent, laziness.

But then if it aint broke, why fix it. This is a sequel which sticks to the rules. Deliver more of the same, only faster and more spectacularly. Hence, Stifler once again gets his comeuppance at the opening party, and Jim has to suffer all manner of sexual humiliation in his path to the ultimate `lay' (including an especially groan-inducing incident with a porn video and some superglue).

What sets the American Pie series apart from many of the copycat gross-out comedies which have attempted to ride its coat-tails, however, is the sheer energy and likeability of its cast and this is what makes the sequel worth seeing. The writers have obviously done their homework on which characters warranted more attention and attempted to deliver the goods.

Hence, we have more of Jim and his father, loads more of Michelle and her musical instruments, and, best of all, tonnes of Stifler. The movie positively bristles with energy when Scott is on screen and he is easily the best thing about it. Fans of the original will no doubt have a blast with the follow-up. It is, at the end of the day, juvenile, dirty fun which kind of makes you feel good about yourself. And that, surely, is what this kind of movie is all about.