American Pie 2

One year has passed, the school year is over, and all the guys are back in American Pie 2. It's a pretty amazing feat that the entire cast and many of the supporting characters all appear in the sequel, although some have roles that amount to little more than extended cameos. American Pie 2 picks up right where the first one left off, with the guys still on the prowl for sex. In fact, the sequel essentially uses the first as a template. It is funny and it is outrageous, but is so just like the first one. There is not much original, it's just the same thing over again. What American Pie 2 has going for it is some heart behind the toilet humor, so because of that it is better than the legion of cheap imitators.

In American Pie 2, the gang gathers at a summer house on the edge of a lake, hoping for a memorable time with lots of booze and booty. Jim (Jason Biggs, Loser, Saving Silverman) is still pining after uber-babe Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth, Tomcats, Scary Movie), who is traveling across the country. She promises to visit Jim at the end of the summer, sending into a frenzy. He needs to brush up on his technique in order to be ready for Nadia, so he turns to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, Boys and Girls, American Pie), who, of course, is at a nearby band camp. Jim's dad (Eugene Levy, Down to Earth, Josie & the Pussycats) is still around, still causing Jim grief. Oz (Chris Klein, Say It Isn't So, Here on Earth) and Heather (Mena Suvari, Sugar & Spice, Loser) are still dating, but Heather is studying abroad for the summer. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Freddy Got Fingered, Black and White) is still lusting after Stifler's mom, and Stifler (Seann William Scott, Evolution, Dude, Where's My Car?) is still a horndog. Finally, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols, Cutaway, American Pie) finds himself still wanting Vicky (Tara Reid, Josie & The Pussycats, Just Visiting), although they broke up last year.

Thus the stage is set for further embarrassment, especially on the part of Jim. This time around, J.B. Rogers (Say It Isn't So) directs and David H. Steinberg and Adam Herz (American Pie) write, and everything is fully in the vein of the first one. The main problem is that there is nothing new. They recycle many of the jokes, and have to deal with topping American Pie, this time without the element of surprise. The three of them do a fairly good job, managing to maintain laughs while grossing out the audience. It is also hard trying to have so many people fit into the story. It seems they just wanted to have everybody back, even if it means only having Suvari appear sporadically (and mostly on the phone) and other, more interesting characters like Jessica (Natasha Lyonne, Scary Movie 2, But I'm A Cheerleader) appear as afterthoughts. The one thing they do right is write sympathetic, normal characters that people can relate to, mostly through similar embarrassing moments.

As an ensemble, the actors have good chemistry together. They are basically riding the coattails of American Pie, skimming merrily along. After one year, there has been no real change at all. Same faces, same personalities, zero growth. In fact, for people who did not see American Pie, much of American Pie 2 will make no sense. It is full of inside jokes and references to the first film. Like the original, the main focus is on Jim, and Biggs again must deal with horribly embarrassing moments as he navigates through the summer. The shock value of the best jokes are not there, and there are fewer memorable lines and scenes than the first. So while American Pie 2 may be fun to watch, it will be hard to remember long.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 45 minutes, Rated R for strong sexual content, crude humor, language, and drinking.

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