Here is my ranking (from least favourite to most favourite) of the films within the American Pie franchise, with a short explanation accompanying each:
#8 – American Pie presents: The Book of Love (American Pie 7)
Would modern teens really be interested in ‘The Book of Love’ when they have the internet? I don’t think so, so it’s a pointless sequel.
#7 – American Pie presents: Beta House (American Pie 6)
It’s good to have a proper sequel to one of the ‘American Pie presents’ films but it’s just another step away from the original towards a focus on cheap gags, tits and drunkenness.
#6 – American Pie presents: The Naked Mile (5)
Introducing a Stifler who is more like Jim than Steve was a smart move which allows it to almost recapture the essence of the original, almost as an homage. However it marks the franchise’s move away from relationships and situational comedy to a greater focus on the pursuit of sex and alcohol.
#5 – American Pie presents: Band Camp
The first and best ‘American Pie presents’ films capitalises on the stories of Band Camp as told within the core films and presents a good mix of old and new characters. It doesn’t rehash any of the core films nor does it move too far away from the essence of them. It also marked the shift towards the Stifler family, which allowed for the sequels to follow – for better and for worse.
#4 – American Wedding (American Pie 3)
American Wedding is a great sequel as comedy franchises go. The ‘wedding’ concept is a logical continuation from the previous two films and the characters and their relationships develop satisfactorily, in terms of what has come before. The situations and comedy differentiate more so from the original than the second film and this allows for fresh jokes and ingenious comedic moments. What holds it back is the absence of characters from the first two, which is explained in throwaway sentences.
#3 – American Reunion (American Pie 8)
American Reunion more than makes up for the lackluster offering from the ‘American Pie presents’ films. A lot of that is obviously down to budget but there is also the nostalgia effect; a school reunion is a logical plot device to bring everyone back! The fact that all of the characters are now in their late late 20s (?) allows for new situations and for the dynamics between the characters to be different without being forced. Though I’ve yet to go to a reunion, this is what I imagine it to be – people lying about their lives and trying to recapture their youth!
#2 – American Pie
No sequel is better than the original, right? Well, maybe that is true in most cases and, well, the original may in fact be the best film in the franchise. It captures the hormonal confusion of adolescence during the internet’s infancy and it just wouldn’t work today. Whether teens today would find it funny I do not know, maybe that’s why it doesn’t deserve the top spot – it’s a product of it’s time. However sex and school have not changed as much as technology in the same period, therefore much of the film is still funny and relevant; be it an awkward dad trying to talk about sex with his son, virgins desperate to have sex or sexual experimentation (with or without pie).
#1 – American Pie 2
Yes. A sequel in the top position. I have to admit that this is largely due to the amount of times that I have seen it and the “in-jokes” between my brother and I about the film. It’s nostalgia for me which adds a whole another layer of comedy on top. That being said, it is still a solid sequel which, like the third film, is a logical continuation of the first film and, like the first one, it captures a crucial moment in everyone’s lives; what happens after school? At school your main concerns are fitting in, getting good grades and juggling hormones and teen angst. After school you have to find yourself but in the big wide world. We all try to cling on to who we were and who we were friends with but life changes things and, to me, American Pie 2 captures that… in an extremely American way.