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Consistently gross and funny, "American Pie" gives us every teenage boy's American Dream.

Slice Of Life

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Life, liberty and the pursuit of sex. Those are every American teen's inalienable rites. They are also the point of much speculation, exaggeration and humiliation. If you can recall your high school days without a single twinge of self-doubt, guilt or embarrassment, then this summer's gross-out comedy "American Pie" will be just another exercise in teen tedium. If, however, the remembrance of high school and dating makes you sigh with relief that you are now an adult — well then, "American Pie" will amuse.

Now comes the tricky part, explaining in writing just what the movie's about. The plot is extremely simple: Four male high school seniors make a pact to lose their virginity before they graduate. While this might seem a reasonable goal at the start of senior year, these guys are under the raging hormone gun. It's three weeks until the prom and then wham! — it's cap and gown time. There's also another small sticking point: Only one of the four hale and hearty fellows has a long-standing relationship with a girlfriend.

Consequently, we are treated to the graphic and often embarrassing reality of teenage boys' (and girls') tunnel vision about sex. And masturbation. Plenty of the latter, in fact. While this may have you thinking "There's Something About Mary," "American Pie" is more along the lines of "Porky's," even though it does have a sweet-natured love story as a sub-plot.

The gang includes Jim (Jason Biggs), an average guy with a father (the sweetly out-of-it Eugene Levy) who always seems to be walking in on him when he's, shall we say, exploring his solitary sexual options. Then there's Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), the good-looking guy with the girlfriend (Tara Reid) who wants him to say "I love you" and mean it. Next is Oz (Chris Klein, who resembles a beefed-up Keanu Reeves), the lacrosse jock who grows the most during the pact, learning the difference between sex and love. Finally, there's Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), the smart one in the group who suffers from another high-school-induced anxiety: fear of public bathrooms. Watching these four scheme, connive, cajole and listen to advice as their puerile penile clock is ticking makes up the bulk of "American Pie."

No hidden agendas here, all director Paul Weitz and writer Adam Herz want to do is make you laugh. That's the point to every gross-out sight gag, and trust me, they throw in everything from raging hormones to raging diarrhea. "American Pie" descends into the realm of bad taste in its opening scene and never once tries to rise above it. Which actually is what saves the movie. If for one second Weitz and Herz had tried to go for something more intellectual or poignant, audiences would have seen right through them. Everyone was a sexual tabula rasa at some point, and yes, wanting that secret adult knowledge consumed us. And that's what "American Pie" is all about.

Now, I must admit that I laughed consistently throughout "American Pie" but I also grimaced and groaned a great deal. While I was doing the latter, the twentysomething males all around me were hooting and hollering. They also laughed uproariously through the only sequence I found disturbing, when Jim decides to secretly tape the object of his desire and broadcast her actions over the Internet. Although the filmmakers soften this sequence by making it a humiliating experience for Jim, the humor never quite outweighed the underlying ickiness.

"American Pie" is this summer's cinematic equivalent of the mood ring. If you go ready to be entertained and with your brain disengaged — "American Pie" will have you laughing in spite of yourself. However, if you like your "coming of age" tales told with sensitivity, steer clear of this one. Also, if you revere the sanctity of baked goods, one scene with a warm apple pie may scar you for

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