I didn’t know Hollywood still allowed high school seniors to be virgins, but “American Pie” is a comedy about four senior boys who make a deal to lose their virginity before the conclusion of the school year.
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Teenagers used to go to the movies to see adults make love; now adults go to the movies to see teenagers make love. I get letters from readers complaining that Clint Eastwood or Sean Connery are too old for steamy scenes, but never a word from an adult. Real teenagers are no doubt about as inexperienced and uncertain as they have always been, and many wisely avoid the emotional and physical dangers of early sex.
Consider that until a few years ago semen and other secretions and extrusions dared not speak their names in the movies. Then “There’s Something About Mary” came along with its very funny hair-gel joke, and moviegoers have been reeling at the level of sexuality, vulgarity, obscenity and gross depravity in movies aimed at teenagers (and despite their R ratings, these movies obviously have kids under 17 in their crosshairs).
It is not funny for a character to drink beer that contains something that is not beer, but it is funny in “There’s Something About Mary ” when the Ben Stiller character discovers he has the same substance dangling from his body. I rise to the challenge. I look for an underlying cosmic principle to apply. I found one. I learned that gross-out gags can be funny when they emerge unintentionally from the action.
If Stiller were to greet Diaz knowing what was on his ear, that would not be funny because humour happens when characters are victims, not when they are perpetrators. Humour is generated not by content but by context, which is why “Big Daddy” isn’t funny because Adam Sandler’s character knows what he’s doing, and wants to get away with it.
But returning to “American Pie,” which follows the principles of humour while having a lot of sexual stuff that is, in my opinion, too sophisticated for high school and a lot of people that are more carefree about it than most teenagers could be.
It is humorous that he forgot and left his CU-See Me software running so that the entire Internet community can watch him be embarrassed when the lucky hero gets the foreign exchange student into his bedroom and she turns out to be ready for a romp; it would not be funny if he left it on purposefully.
As I swim through the summer tide of vulgarity, I find that’s what I’m looking for: Movies that at least feel affection for their characters. Raunchy is OK. Cruel is OK. This movie is in the tradition of “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” and all the more recent teen sex comedies. It’s not inspired, but it’s cheerful and hard-working and sometimes funny, and—this is the important