- The Washington Times - Friday, August 10, 2001

In a manner of speaking, "American Pie 2" (what a title) exceeded my wildest expectations. If I had cared enough to plot sabotage against a looming "American Pie" franchise, a high-priority tactic would have been making the initial sequel so stale and droopy that even enthusiasts would find it a chore to chortle up a storm of approbation.
To my surprise and approval, screenwriter Adam Herz and director J.B. Rogers have come through like chumps. "Pie 2" lugs around such droopy farcical drawers, unattended for a running time that overshoots two hours, that the franchise may be in trouble even as it brags of monster gross receipts this weekend.
Faster than you can say "Porky's Revenge," there may be little cause to dread endless installments of "American Pie."
Mr. Rogers, not to be confused with the esteemed Fred, has proved a double-barreled franchise-crippler within a matter of months. A former assistant to the Farrelly brothers, who set most of the fashions in contemporary gross-out or merely outrageous farce with "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary," Mr. Rogers was entrusted with a Farrelly hand-me-down titled "Say It Isn't So," released in the spring. While the ingredients were familiar, the execution lacked an intangible zest or impudence or brazen overconfidence or something indispensable. It looked and felt secondhand and halfhearted.
The same deadening effects are evident almost before "American Pie 2" is out of the blocks, a gambit that consists of repeating the gags that already have been sneaked into the trailer.
Juvenile lead Jason Biggs as amorous but bumbling Jim, now a college freshman, is interrupted during a dorm-room tryst with a classmate (female) as his devoted dad (Eugene Levy) walks in unannounced and supposedly catches a carnal eyeful. He's followed by Jim's mom, who drops one of her vulnerable pies, wrecking that abused prop with merciful promptness. She's followed by the girl's startled and offended parents. A regular Grand Central Station, or red light district in Amsterdam, those coed dorms.
The prototype, a rollicking smutty hit of two summers ago, was set against the backdrop of a high school senior prom. As the sequel began treading subplots and repeating episodes, a friend with long memories for Hollywood rubbish of this persuasion wondered why the filmmakers didn't simplify their lives and steal a notion from the first sequel to "Porky's," which was subtitled "The Next Day."
The pretense that the characters have matured slightly after a year of college and now lend themselves to a more searching exploration of youthful romantic relationships won't stand any scrutiny. Why bother? You might as well envision the whole ensemble ready to romp and blunder anew the morning after the prom party.
In fact, the first extended stop when Jim returns home (ostensibly a suburban community somewhere in Michigan) is the original party house, where his maniacal buddy Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) is the unruly host. This boy hedonist happens to be the liveliest member of Jim's set, and his low-minded energy becomes the only reliable recharge as the movie sputters and stalls.
The pals named Oz and Kevin (Chris Klein and Thomas Ian Nicholas, respectively) might as well be at summer school. The writer has no apparent use for them. The reedy and eccentric Finch, who scored with Steve's permissive mom (again Jennifer Coolidge, reserved for a fade-out encore), provides an amusing contrast to Mr. Scott, physically and temperamentally. Eddie Kaye Thomas, who plays Finch, is a funny hubrid: Rowan Atkinson's appearance crossed with Michael Moriarty's delivery.
The filmmakers try to settle into a new anything-goes location by having the guys rent a summer place on Lake Michigan. Oz and Finch remain loyal to particular women who are not immediately available.
The others get to compete in the sexual chase. It's even fine for Oz and Finch to join in as voyeurs, an opportunity that supposedly arises when the guys, earning their keep as house painters for the season, believe they have lucked into a job at a home occupied by shameless, exhibitionist lesbians.
I believe the ensuing round of teases is meant to sell the movie like hot cakes. The implication is that "American Pie" depends on an audience of sex-comedy virgins, confronted with antique quips and orgy pantomimes for the first time.
As the sequel drags its tail to a conclusion, everyone seems so smugly matched up, or at least resigned, that scant grounds for sexual curiosity or experimentation remain to be plowed up and patted back into place. Two dread syllables are likely to follow "American Pie 2" into the closing weeks of the summer season: Bo-ring.

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