Rated R - Running Time: 1:44 - Released 8/10/01

Although I didn't regard Paul Weitz's blockbusting 1999 teen sex comedy American Pie as highly as many of my fellow critics, feeling it was little more than a lamely concocted story about four high school guys racing each other to be deflowered, I daresay its sequel is leagues better, not only from the aspect of plot development but in terms of characterization and cast interaction. This could be attributed to the directing talent of James B. Rogers (Say It Isn't So), promoted from his AP1 position of first assistant director, but the fact that the entire cast has returned for the sequel, including the eight or ten principals and several minor characters, probably has more to do with it. The result is a palpable sense of camaraderie among the cast, like old high school chums getting back together. And in fact, that's precisely what the story, by Adam Herz and David H. Steinberg, entails.

A year has passed since our friends had their memorable prom experience, and Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Stifler (Seann William Scott), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), are back home for the summer after freshman year. Although they all succeeded in their goal of a sexual score on prom night, most of them are still woefully inexperienced in the sack, and resolve to spend the summer, er, honing their craft. They pool their resources and rent a huge beach cottage together, planning to make it with as many babes as they can before summer's end, at which time they will have a huge, memorable bash.

The trouble is, with the exception of Stifler, who is game for anything in a skirt, the guys are all stuck on the memories of their prom-night partners. Oz has remained faithful to his glee-club girlfriend Heather (Mena Suvari), but her enrollment in summer school means they have to rely on awkward phone sex until the party. Jim, whose proclivity for extreme public embarassment continues unabated, reunites with band-camp girl Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), who agrees to give him some sexual pointers (pardon the pun) so he'll be ready for a reunion with his Czech beauty and Internet partner, Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth). Kevin spends the summer trying to re-establish ties with ex-girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid), and Finch, immersing himself in the art of tantric lovemaking, still carries a torch for Stifler's mom (Jennifer Coolidge).

Don't get me wrong; this is still a shallow flick about five guys whose only goal is to get it on, but at least this time it has some heart. The characters seem to have grown considerably, and the chemistry is much more relaxed. Of course, there are numerous comic situations, like the embarrassingly badly timed return of Jim's dad (Eugene Levy) on two occasions, some rauchy band-camp antics, and a scene with two suspected lesbians which borders on soft-core porn. But the humor has enough intelligence to be excused from its low-end premise, and offers many more laughs and much more character development than its shallow predecessor. ****

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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