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American Pie
cast: Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, and Natasha Lyonne

director: Paul Weitz

91 or 92 minutes (15) 1999
Universal DVD retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Gary Couzens
Four high school students pledge to lose their virginity by the end of term. This is very much Porky's revisited, but since this was made in the 1990s, the film does without much of the misogyny and gratuitous nudity of that earlier film. The female characters are given a little more depth, and the men are often seen as ridiculous. That's not to say that this is refined: this film isn't above gross-out jokes involving laxatives and semen in a beer glass, a long sequence where Jim (Jason Biggs) gets off with beautiful exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) not realising that their exploits are being webcast to the rest of the school, and the now-notorious scene involving the title foodstuff's possibilities as a masturbation aid. That said, it's a pleasant hour and a half of lowbrow humour, with good supporting roles from the ever-impressive Natasha Lyonne and Eugene Levy as Jim's dad, who tries to teach his son about sex with embarrassing results. Alyson Hannigan (Willow in TV's Buffy) plays a music student who's not as nerdish as she first appears; she gets to deliver one of the best lines in the whole film, which you'll have to hear for yourself - it's all in the context and timing.
   American Pie troubled the American censor, and as a result had to edited to avoid the commercially-restrictive NC-17 rating. An unrated version is available in the US, and both versions are available here. It says something about differing attitudes towards sexual content that the BBFC passed both versions, without cuts, with a 15 certificate. The difference is minimal, amounting to ten seconds plus some substitute footage. (The pie scene is performed standing up in the cut version, horizontally in the uncut one, and if you can explain the reasoning behind the acceptability of the former against the latter, please do.) The long version is subtitled 'Unseen - What You Didn't See at the Cinema'. The short version is available in full-screen and widescreen (1.85:1) versions. You pays your money and you takes your choice, but frankly there's not a great deal of difference. The DVD version is the shorter one, with the cut material available as outtakes. It also includes: cast-and-crew commentary, gag reel, location spotlight, the trailer, classic-lines index, production notes and biographies.

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