Saturday, March 29, 2014

American Pie 2


I must apologize to all my fans for keeping them waiting for yet another look at the life of their favorite, glamorous, Hollywood star. It's just that it's been an exceedingly busy week. Following the triumphant, Red Rocks concert, I went immediately into the studio to start laying down tracks for my new album designed to appeal to the mall demographic, Endless Suburb. Things have been going wonderfully well. The first single is going to be a cover of ABBA's Dancing Queen with a new lyric entitled Drama Queen; I have the cutest back-up boy band called P-Town and it's a tribute to all those young men who work as chain restaurant servers. It should be all the rage in the clubs this winter.

I did get one evening off and nipped up to San Francisco to see friends and, while there, caught a stunning production of Stephen Sondheim's rarely produced Pacific Overtures. After seeing it, I realize that my next theater project must be a kabuki musical written in haiku. I'm getting Barry Manilow to start working on a score as it can't be that different from writing commercial jingles. I just need to find the right property. I'm thinking perhaps One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with me as Nurse Ratched.

Oregon loonies.
More inhuman than humane.
Call Jack Nicholson.

It'll be just marvelous. I have to get Joseph working on getting a corporate sponsorship from Sanyo or Toshiba or someone...

I've barely had a moment to myself but I did have a free lunch break the other day and so off I strode to the Cineplex for a film. I had little time so I bought a ticket to whatever was starting next which turned out to be American Pie 2. I had actually seen the first one when it came out and was pleasantly surprised that a low budget teen sex comedy could actually be as sweet as it was, with a surprisingly moral message underneath. As the entire cast was returning for this one, I figured it couldn't be too terrible. It wasn't. But it wasn't too good either.

The first film follows a group of four high school friends (male) who are determined to help each other lose their virginity by the end of senior prom. Amidst the occasional gross jokes, they achieve their goal but learn some important life lessons about the nature of sex versus love and judging people by appearances and the usual elements of sexual attractiveness. The producers knew that their mid-20s stars would no longer be believable as high school students so they've set this film during the summer after their freshman year at college, that summer during which most of us learn the important lesson of 'You can't go home again'.

Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) are a year older and a little unsure of what to do with themselves. Kevin, again aping his older brother, suggests they rent a beach house together for the summer and end up the season with a blow out party. This basically sets up a premise which allows the film makers to completely remake the first movie, only with different sight gags. The young cast throws itself into the mix of gross-out and coming of age comedy with good natured abandon but there are a couple of major mistakes which upset the balance and keep the film from taking off.

First off, Stifler (Seann William Scott), the comic nemesis from the first film is given a more prominent role this time around. To do this, he has to become one of the gang rather than an outsider and his antics throw off the chemistry of the group. Scott is a hoot and gamely gets to be the butt of most of the more embarrassing scenes, but it's way too much of a good thing. Second, Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), the band camp nerd, has to become a romantic lead. Miss Hannigan does a great job making a one joke part human and does the transformation - but hearing about band camp is much funnier than actually seeing it and there's a couple of unnerving sequences involving Jason Biggs and a trombone that the film could have done without.

The body fluid jokes are present, as before. All of the inamorata from the first film (including Natasha Lyonne, Shannon Elizabeth and Mena Suvari) reprise their somewhat thankless roles but the comedy doesn't sparkle as it did in the first film as it's being stretched to reprise set pieces rather than growing naturally out of character and situation. As they obviously couldn't redo the pie gag again, poor Jason Biggs has to endure a protracted sequence involving superglue and a pornographic video that was probably funnier on paper. A major quibble is the institutionalization of Hollywood's very flawed view of human sexuality. Lesbian sex is presented as 'titillating' and gay male sex as 'gross', an attitude I always find offensive.

In general, the film is competent, but nothing special, and should show the dangers inherent in trying to make sequels to comedies. All you can do is make the same film again - and there are other films to make.

Inadvertent golden showers. House painting. Tantric meditation. Foreign exchange post cards. Gratuitous blue plastic penis. Father/Son ER talk. Butt trumpet. Obnoxious little brother. Suggested three way.

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