from Nick Suss
June 9, 2014, 10:35 a.m.
Most of my world exists in the realm of fantasy. Almost everything I know about the outside world I learned from a book, a TV show or a movie. And I would venture as far as to say that a lot of you are in the same boat. We learn a lot from fiction. It can remark on the real world as well as any news or nonfictional outlet can oftentimes with a wider-reaching appeal. But there is a destructive kind of fiction: fiction masquerading as truth. As a college student, I am frankly offended by how Hollywood portrays college life. There’s more than just debauchery and stress-cramming. While there are some people who try to be Bluto, more often than not, college life isn’t what you see on the screen. So that’s why I’ve devised this new column, set to run Mondays until I run out of movies: Ruin a College Movie. This week I start off with a personal favorite of not just me, but of many friends and acquaintances alike. Today, I analyze the illogical nature of American Pie 2.
Now, and this probably goes without saying, there will be spoilers ahead. If you haven’t seen the movie, beware.
American Pie 2 picks up a year after the classic first film ends, with each of the principle characters from the original returning with a year of higher learning under their belts. It’s impressive how much of the original cast was retained for the sequel, with everyone from protagonists like Jim and Oz to fringe favorites like the Shermanator and Nadia coming back. But the entire premise is a high schooler’s dream, a fallacy perpetuated by the nostalgic in all of us. The movie actively stymies change and stunts growth while ignoring most of what it is actually like to be back at home from college. The movie is great for a few laughs, but when I rewatched the movie last week, it was like looking into a bizarro world. Here’s why:
American Pie 2 is built around a three-month summer period shared by the five main characters – Jim, Kevin, Finch, Oz and Stiffler – after they have finished up a year of college. The idea is to have a memorable summer with your high school buddies. That’s the whole premise. And while a noble premise that all of us wish we could do, it’s next to implausible. Without complaining too much, let’s poke some holes in this situation. First, these are four high school best friends who have nothing in common outside of the fact that they were friends in the first movie and a nuisance they keep around for money. But we can cast aside the fact that these five would never run in the same circles. We can cast aside the fact that the character of Kevin is never truly developed and that all we know about him through two movies is that he has a brother, likes to use the word “legendary” and wants to have sex with Tara Reid. We can cast aside the fact that Finch’s entire motivation in this movie is to sleep with Stiffler’s mom and that had he not been in the movie, nothing would have been different. We can even cast aside the fact that the only explained reason for these guys being able to afford a beach house is that they work painting houses when they are only shown painting one house and that was after they rented their place originally. Let’s just examine the plot holes that relate to college, shall we?
I’ll start with a major gripe: There are NO new faces introduced. None. These people had just gone through a year of college, very few of them attending the same school, and apparently met no one new worth mentioning. I understand that you wouldn’t want to bring along a college friend to a high school party, but no experience even merits a mention in this film. Not one. Not even a “Hey, me and Charlie went down to the quad this one time.” Nothing. How is it that the writers of this film expected to write a movie about coming home from college without actually mentioning what happened in college. All we know is that Jim almost had sex with a girl on the last day of classes and that Kevin didn’t. That’s it. These people must have lived depraved years at college, doing nothing but thinking about that one party they went to in high school where three of them had sex. (And by the way, to gripe with the first movie, how in the hell was Oz a virgin? He was a superstar athlete with good looks. That’s pretty much the formula for getting laid in movie high school. Just saying.) But in all seriousness, I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve told friends from high school about people in college. The stories just come up. You haven’t seen a person in a year. You should be naturally inclined to catch them up on what’s happened in your life. And if nothing happened? These people are worse at college than me.
Here’s a smaller one: Why was Michelle a counselor at band camp but she was still performing in almost every recital? I’m not well-versed in the inner workings of band camps, but I assume the public recitals are for the campers, not the counselors. And I understand college students going back and being camp counselors. I know multiple people doing that this summer. I’m not saying it’s something that doesn’t happen. But theoretically, shouldn’t someone who still is this into band be performing in her college’s marching band and practicing with them? And furthermore, shouldn’t Oz and Stiffler be practicing with the lacrosse team at State over the summer instead of drinking product-placed alcohol and hitting on all of the scantily clad women in Northern Michigan?
But let’s not rant about that for too long. Lets’ get into the biggest part. HOW DO THESE PEOPLE HAVE THIS SORT OF TIME? HAVE YOU NO FUTURE TO LOOK FORWARD TO? Apparently, in the universe of this movie, only Mena Suvari’s character does anything remotely academic over the summer when she studies abroad. No one else does anything. No one takes summer classes. No one works a full-time job. No one gets an internship. Apparently, the entire class of 2000 at East Grand Falls High School save one decided to take the summer off. And I know I didn’t do much my first summer back from college. But I was in the minority. I had friends studying abroad, taking classes, getting jobs, traveling, doing it all. How did this happen so an entire high school worth of people wasted their entire summer and this was painted as a good thing? There was no mention of the idea of any of these people’s majors or plans for next semester or futures. Just a bunch of reminiscing and feel-good high school-i-ness. Which is so impossible I have to make up a word for its impossibility. It was implausi-practi-possi-fallacaic!
I don’t mean to criticize too hard, but really. It’s tough to imagine this many people simply forgetting about the idea of furthering themselves for a quarter of a year just to throw one cool party that people 12 years later would read about in an autograph book. That was the motivation of the film. You can see it in the scene with Kevin and Vicki and in the scene with the phone call between Kevin and older brother Kevin. The entire premise of this movie was to mortgage the idea of bettering one’s self for a future in the hopes of throwing a party that might be remembered in a decade by a few people who saw you wrote down you had a fun summer. You know what would have been just as productive? Lying, writing down you had a great summer on a sheet of paper, leaving it somewhere, and hoping someone will read it someday. Then, they could have not wasted three months, gotten off their asses and not obsessed over menial things from high school like sleeping with the hot foreign girl or your friend’s mom. Maybe that’s why everybody was so miserable in American Reunion. Because they wasted an entire period of their lives and EVERYBODY ELSE IN THE WORLD PASSED THEM!
So that’s the first rant of this series. Let me know what you think. Next week, I’ll be coming back with a classic from my childhood: An Extremely Goofy Movie. Get excited.