American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile
AMERICAN PIE PRESENTS THE NAKED MILE (2006)
Starring John White, Steve Talley, Jessy Schram, Eugene Levy, Candace Kroslak, Angel Lewis, Jordan Medley, Melanie Merkosky, Jon Cor, Mikla Winkler, Jaclyn A. Smith and Christopher McDonald.
Screenplay by Erik Lindsay.
Directed by Joe Nussbaum.
Distributed by Universal Home Video. 102 minutes. Not Rated.
The fifth movie of the American Pie franchise (and the second which has gone straight to video) has almost no direct connection to the classic 1999 teen comedy other than its title.
Now the original characters are down to one – though in fairness that one is the best comic actor in the series – Eugene Levy has an extended cameo as Mr. Levenstein. Even though he isn’t on screen that much time, he is still an effortlessly funny character. Like the last edition, Band Camp, the writers have to go through some gymnastics to get him into the storyline, but I’m glad he’s there. Especially nice is a short scene when he is talking with the main character about his son and they reminisce over the events of the first film.
That said, while The Naked Mile couldn’t exactly be called a good movie, the surprising thing is that it is the best film in this series since the second (arguably since the first). The reason for this step up – particularly after the twin nadirs of American Wedding and American Pie Presents Band Camp, is because they have finally remembered what really made the first film work. More focus on the normal, sex-crazed but inexperienced teenagers, less Stifler.
Though, ironically, the nerdy virgin of this film is also a Stifler; Erik, a cousin of the original trilogy’s breakout slimebag character Steve Stifler. He is also a cousin of Steve’s brother Matt from Band Camp. A third brother named Adam shows up here – though in the original film Stifler only had one brother (named only “Stifler’s brother” in the credits and a different actor from either of these ones, at that…) However, this film is smart enough (unlike the last two) to make the partying Stifler a supporting role, a little Stifler can go a long way.
Interestingly the real lead, Erik Stifler, is played by an actor who is a complete splitting image of a seventies actor named Gary Grimes, who also played a nerdy kid obsessing about losing his virginity in the classic (and much more restrained) movie Summer of 42. Literally, I kept watching the end credits to see if he was Grimes’ son (or even grandson), but that wasn’t the case. The actor is named John White. However, even beyond the similarity of looks, White has a nice, easy, unforced likability and innocence much like the older actor.
Erik has the dubious distinction of being the only Stifler ever to make it to senior year of high school as a virgin. He is in love with a beautiful, but pure girl (Jessy Schram). When he wants sex and she isn’t ready, she gives him a free pass to go out and get laid one weekend with no guilt or recriminations. Therefore Erik and his party buddies go up to college for the infamous Naked Mile weekend – literally a nude jog of thousands of students – and to visit his legendary cousin Adam. Everyone is determined to get him laid to a beautiful, willing bartender (Candace Kroslak), but Erik is having second thoughts because he is in love with his girlfriend.
In a move that is surprisingly subtle and thoughtful for the later films in the series, in one scene Adam Stifler talks about what a chore it can be to have to live up to the family name and that the family is lucky to have a well-balanced member like Erik. That kind of subtle self-reflection has been absent from this series since the first slice of Pie.
Also surprisingly tactful in the new movie – again, just like the first one – the girls are beautiful, but don’t look like porn stars. They look real, something this series lost touch with long ago.
Of course, being an American Pie movie it is going to have its low-brow humor, too; crazy parties, lots of nudity, extended jokes about super viagra and a few scenes where bodily fluids spurt out on people. There is also a strange and slightly disturbing ongoing feud with a fraternity made up of nasty midgets, which seems mean-spirited rather than quirky, which I assume was their intention.
Nonetheless, in The Naked Mile, this series has regained its heart and pulse somewhat. (12/06)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2006 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: December 1, 2006.