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IN SHORT: Intimate knowledge of the first one required. [Rated R for strong sexual content, crude humor, language and drinking. 104 minutes]
Or, let's sexually humiliate Jim in as many ways as we can think of.
When last we saw James Emmanuel Levenstein (Jason Biggs), he had just discovered one of the unfortunate side effects of having a penis. With him at the time was Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) and, as seen in the incredibly silly and funny American Pie, a worldwide Internet audience. Jim also had a run in with a marching band geek but, as we tire of mentioning, one of the rules of the site is that you shouldn't have to know the source material to enjoy the movie. We relax a little bit when it comes to sequels but in this case we'd have to go limp.
A year of college later, which is where we pick up with American Pie 2, Jim still has a penis and still doesn't know what to do with it. Summer's here. Nadia is making the cross country trip from New York to Michigan and the experience clock is ticking. God forbid he shouldn't know what he was doing after a year in the big leagues of University! Where can he get some good advice? From his friends, perhaps? Oz (Chris Klein) has a penis, but his true love Heather (Mena Suvari) is overseas for the summer. Stifler (Seann William Scott) has a penis, which he is more than happy to point out to anyone within breathing space, but he's more transfixed with what other people do than with getting some himself. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has a penis, but he's deliberately not using it, training himself in the ways of tantric sex so that his next encounter with Stifler's Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) will be even more earth shattering than the last.
Jim has other FWHP (friends who have penises) but no one seems to be getting any in Pie 2, which is hampered by the fact that most of the femme stars in this movie -- in addition to Suvari, you get Tara Reid and Natasha Lyonne -- have built names big enough that there is no way in heck that they're going to get naked on the big screen in a silly sex comedy. The shame of it all is that all but one joke is crammed into the television commercial, and that aforementioned joke has been spilled in various late night talk show appearances by star Jason Biggs, who also spilled his guts to our Paul Fischer over in CrankyCritic StarTalk. If you've been exposed, American Pie 2 is still amusing, but it ain't the gutbuster that its predecessor was.
Although, if you want to use the term "gutbuster" literally, that pretty much sums up the one gag that painfully outdoes the famous pie sequence in the last film. If you missed the first film, and are beyond your teen years, working through Pie 2 is like trying to negotiate a maze. All your time is spent trying to figure out who everyone is and what every relationship is -- something that takes at least half the movie to do -- and while there are dick jokes galore, the best ones are out of the way before the title credits roll.
Eugene Levy returns as Jim's well meaning dad. There's little more for him to do than interrupt his son once again. But, like the first Pie, there's a point to all the silliness. It has to do with self-discovery and not shooting for the moon when your foot is in the way. The first one worked because all of us who are far beyond virginity well remember the anxiety of getting through it. These guys though, will carry that anxiety for at least ninety more minutes. Funny stuff if you're still a kidlet. Just amusing if you're not.
And absolutely a continuation of the first film. Thus the rating.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to American Pie 2, he would have paid . . .
Wait and rent the pair. Teenlets who wet themselves over the first one should add two bucks (kicking the rating up to dateflick level) and go have a good time.
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