A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that teens talk about having sex explicitly in this film. Girls and boys masturbate, as well as give and get oral sex. There's discussion and depiction of premature ejaculation and faking orgasm, and boys talk about lying to girls to get them to sleep with them. And mostly, teens try to find out about sex without talking to their parents. This is a case where it would be good to watch the film ahead of teens, all of whom know about the series and probably want to watch it.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In AMERICAN PIE, Jim (Jason Biggs) is among the least experienced of his friends. He hasn't gotten to "third base," which his friends describe as feeling like "hot apple pie." While Jim is busy experimenting with scrambled porn and, well, his mom's baked goods, he and his buddies make a pact to lose their virginity before graduation. That means they've got to meet girls, break down their girlfriends' defenses about sex, and convince their classmates that they're more experienced than they are.
Is it any good?
More than anything, American Pie exploits teen anxiety about sex. One boy, Chuck Sherman (Chris Owens), spends the night at a party talking to a girl and getting close to her, then turns around and acts like they spent the night having sex -- much to the girl's anger. Then there are are the pricelessly funny sex talks between Jim and his dad (played with virtuosic dorkiness by Eugene Levy), and the performance anxiety of boys and girls trying to figure out how to relate to each other -- or not -- among the pressure from their friends to have sex and the pressure from their parents not to have sex. It's funny precisely because it's uncomfortable.
AMERICAN PIE upholds the tradition of horny teenage sex comedies made famous by the R-rated Porky's. The film is likely to entertain teens who are already thinking about sex, and its gross-out humor will appeal to fans of There's Something About Mary.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what teens think of sex, how many of their friends they think are having sex, and what parents think of teens having sex. It's also a good opportunity for parents to answer whatever questions teens may have, both about values surrounding sex and about safe sex.
Parents may also want to put an over-the-top comedy like this in perspective. The antics of these sex-crazed teens come at you fast and furiously, making some of the laughs mostly about the shock value. What other movies and TV shows reach for a laugh this way? (Jackass and South Park are a good start to the list.)
Do you think some teens will feel pressured about sex before they're ready by watching a movie like American Pie? Or do you think it's just a funny situation comedy?
- In theaters: July 1, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: December 21, 1999
- Cast: Chris Klein, Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari
- Directors: Gavin Hood, Paul Weitz
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: High School
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexuality, crude sexual dialogue, language and drinking, all involving teens
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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