AMERICAN PIE PRESENTS… GIRLS’ RULES (2020)
Starring Madison Pettis, Lizze Broadway, Natasha Behnam, Piper Curda, Darren Barnet, Zachary Gordon, Lucas Adams, Lily Bleu Andrew, Ed Quinn, Sara Rue, Rasheda Crockett, Zayne Emory, Camaron Engels, Dylan Lawson, Lisa Linke, Jeannie Elise Mai, Robert Peters, Christian Valderrama, Blayne Weaver, Stephanie Wong, Clint Howard, Barry Bostwick and Danny Trejo.
Screenplay by David H. Steinberg and Blayne Weaver.
Directed by Mike Elliott.
Distributed by Universal Studios Home Entertainment. 96 minutes. Rated R.
Has the world really been awaiting a relaunch of the American Pie brand?
The original film is over 20 years old now, and while it was terrific, it hasn’t aged all that well. Culturally at least, in recent years it has been getting significant blowback in the current #MeToo world. There were three direct sequels to that film, American Pie 2, American Wedding and American Reunion, the most recent of which was in 2012, none of which were good movies or all that popular, though each had its moments.
The series also spawned four made-for-video cheapies under the American Pie Presents… banner. They had nothing to do with the original series, other than sharing gratuitous nudity, sex-toy gags, a random character named Stifler and a slumming cameo by Eugene Levy as “Jim’s Dad.” The last of those was Book of Love in 2011, and if anyone really remembers any of the American Pie Presents… films, I’d be shocked. (I saw all four, and I can barely recall them.)
Which is why it comes as a surprise that almost a decade later, they are releasing yet another American Pie Presents… movie, this one called Girls’ Rules.
Levy skipped his normal cameo, making Girls’ Rules the first of nine American Pie movies that he did not appear in. (I suppose his recent Schitt’s Creek acclaim made him finally ready to cut that cord.)
The first thing that is noticeable about this movie is right in the title – Girls’ Rules. While the original film actually did have nuanced, three-dimensional female characters, through most of the rest of the films, the female characters tended towards more stereotypical categories – like “good girl,” “drunk girl,” “topless girl,” and “the MILF.”
And while the four female lead characters do sometimes talk like truck drivers – geez, if I heard one more “shuck your oyster” joke I was going to scream – in general Girls’ Rules is more romantic and less sexual than the previous installments.
In fact, sorry American Pie fans, but this film has pretty much jettisoned the gratuitous nudity – which let’s face it, was one of the main attractions of the series. There are a lot of bra and panties scenes, but that’s about it. I don’t know if that new shyness is about this story being told from a female perspective, or maybe the current sociological climate. It’s probably a bit of both.
But an American Pie Presents… movie for a PC world feels like a bit of an oxymoron. If an American Pie movie doesn’t have any nudity, really what is the point of it even existing?
On the plus side, the girls in the movie are mostly rather charming and the story is a little sweeter than most of these films. The girls mostly feel like real high school co-eds, not the normal group of strippers and soft-core porn stars that have populated the series. And their romantic storylines, while not necessarily all that realistic, were cute.
Girls’ Rules also has a surprisingly flush supporting cast of b-celebs and c-celebs (as compared to the d-celebs who appeared in the previous titles). Which is not to say that all of them are used well. Barry Bostwick performs his one scene on Facetime on an iPhone. Danny Trejo has more screen time (and he is physically on the set), but mostly he is silently mopping the school floors or confoundingly walking around in an animal mascot outfit. He doesn’t have a line of dialogue until the single, somewhat underwhelming (and overacted) gag line he tosses off at the very end of the movie, during a post-end-credits bonus scene.
Other b-celebs have more to do. Comedian/actress Sara Rue is quite funny as the sex-toy-obsessed high school principal, and Ed Quinn (Eureka) has some fun as a totally sexually inappropriate dad. However, I may never recover from the sight of former Diary of a Wimpy Kid star Zachary Gordon simulating cunnilingus on one of the female stars, even though it was mostly done discretely off-camera.
I suppose that this will probably be the end of the American Pie Presents series for now, though – way too many super spreader parties in this series – unless they can figure out a way to do body shots virtually.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2020 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 6, 2020.