American Pie 2

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Sequels are infamous for being smug about the success of their predecessors. They repeat key lines, re-create key situations, or re-do key jokes, all with this subtext: “We KNOW you saw the first movie and LOVED every minute of it. Now you’re gonna love this one, too, suckers!”

The raucous “American Pie 2” rarely succumbs to this temptation. For all the brouhaha about the crass humor in the 1999 hit that spawned it, that film actually created some likable, interesting characters. There is no condescension in doing a sequel; these are people we don’t mind seeing again, and it makes sense to show what happened to them after they came of age.

“AP2” takes place a year later, just after everyone’s first year of college. Our five heroes have rented a house on the lake for the summer, not just as a means of picking up women, but to create a memorable summer of friendship, too. But mostly the women thing.

Hapless Jim (Jason Biggs) is fretting over the imminent return of European hottie Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth). Worried whether his lack of experience will disappoint her, he consults his only actual partner, dingbatty Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), who is now a counselor at band camp.

Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is trying to rekindle things with Vicky (Tara Reid), who just wants to be friends. Oz (Chris Klein) is being steadfastly faithful to Heather (Mena Suvari), who is abroad for the summer. (Actually, she’s a broad all year round. Ba-BOOM!) Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) pines for Stifler’s mom.

Stifler (Seann William Scott) is there, too, serving as the grinning, oversexed moron who is too horny, even by these guys’ standards. Most of the film’s best lines are his, and he’s a great supporting character. He’s so gloriously, crassly oblivious to the laws of society and decorum that laughing at his antics doesn’t seem like a lowering of one’s moral standards. Laughing won’t encourage him, for he needs no encouragement. This is just how he is.

The film’s best scene is one in which Stifler, Jim and Fitch encounter two women they believe to be lesbians. Their desire to see two women, um, interacting is countered by the fact that the women, who are straight, want to mess with the guys’ minds. It’s well-played and genuinely funny.

There are some major misses, too, including a strangely humorless sequence with Jim forced to play a trombone. The film is uneven like that throughout: hysterical one moment, flat the next. But it has some sweetness underneath its ribaldry, and it treats its characters with compassion. Eugene Levy also turns in another marvelous performance asJim’s would-be hip father.

The teen sex farce genre is not everyone’s cup of tea, obviously. But if it is yours, then this film is worthy of your time.

B (; R, abundant harsh profanity and sexual dialogue,.)

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