Friday FabOoolousness – Reuniting with our Pals from American Pie

Thirteen years ago we all met and fell in love with the quirky teenagers of American Pie.  In my early twenties at the time, I joined millions of other moviegoers and watched the group of young adults as they frantically fluttered about, preparing for their senior prom.  Would they all find a date?  Would any of them lose their virginity?  Would this night be a night to remember, forever?

American Pie was a huge box-office hit, and the success continued once the movie was available on DVD despite critics claims that the film was lewd and shallow.  Regardless, the American Pie film franchise has now grown to include four films starring our favorite characters and another four films following other groups of teenagers.

But for the sake of today’s post, we’re only focusing on the “real” American Pie favorites:

The original, American Pie;

The sequel, American Pie 2;

The official consummation, known as American Wedding;

And the most recent theatrical release, American Reunion.

One thing that I truly appreciate about the American Pie films is that the story follows a group of teenage boys; it’s not the usual girl drama of most YA films.  While there are female characters crucial to the storyline (Michelle, played by Alyson Hannigan; Heather, played by Mena Suvari; Vicky, played by Tara Reid; and Nadia, played by Shannon Elizabeth), the movie tells the tales of five male friends as they move throughout life: Jim Levenstein, played by Jason Biggs; Kevin Myers, played by Thomas Ian Nicholas; Chris “Oz” Ostreicher, played by Chris Klein; Paul Finch, played by Eddie Kaye Thomas; and Steve Stifler, played by Seann William Scott.

The boys/men of American Pie... in order from left to right: Kevin, Jim, Stifler, Oz, and Finch.

Another thing that I applaud is the fact that the franchise kept the original actors throughout; even when a particular star couldn’t return or wasn’t written into the sequel scripts, the casting remained the same.  We recently splurged and treated ourselves to a Sunday afternoon date at the AMC Cinema Suites where we sat back and enjoyed juicy hamburgers and parmesan fries while we witnessed the crew (the ENTIRE crew) come back together for their twelve year high school reunion.

The American Pie franchise keeps true to the comedic moments, with each movie featuring at least one outlandish and hilarious scene (usually featuring Jason Biggs).  In the original, Jim “makes love” to a warm apple pie after he’s told that’s what “third base” feels like.  In American Pie 2, Jim superglues a pornographic VHS tape to one hand, and his other hand to his you know what after he mistakes a bottle of lube with the super sticky adhesive.  Jim’s up to his old tricks in American Wedding when he decides to “manscape” before his nuptials to Michelle, and he disposes of the remnants a bit too close to a vent which of course blows the hair all over the wedding cake.  American Reunion doesn’t disappoint, but for those who haven’t made it to the movie theater these past two weeks to see it, we don’t want to give anything away.

How it all began...

Another great aspect of the American Pie films has to be the pranks.  For what seems to be true of most young boys, the American Pie movies are filled with boys playing pranks on one another.  For example, we have the famous scene of Finch blasting a massive bowel movement in the high school bathroom in the original, courtesy of Stifler (or the “Stifmeister” as he likes to be called); and we have the forever famous and ultimate payback when Finch has sex with Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge).

Stifler's Mom & Finch

Heck, our generation owes the American Pie franchise for introducing us to the word MILF — meaning Mom I’d Like to…Fondle (so that’s not the actual word, but you have to fill in the rest; sorry, we like to keep The Ooo Factor as clean as possible).

And speaking of parents, let’s not forget to mention Jim’s awkwardly awesome dad, Noah Levenstein, played by the great Eugene Levy.  Mr. Levenstein is actually the only character in all eight films credited to the American Pie franchise.

Jim and his beloved and quirky father, Mr. Levenstein

But back to what prompted us to write this post in the first place — American Reunion.  It’s too early to give a summation of the movie, but know this:  it does not disappoint.  My guy and I never go to the theater, but I was dying to see this film.  Instead of ignoring my constant pleading, my guy agreed to go with me (usually he asks that I attend “my movies” with my girlfriends).  And let me just say — he laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  While the credits were rolling, he actually said how fun it was.

Did American Reunion exceed our expectations?  No — but seriously, it did NOT disappoint either.  The story was very well done, and the fact that every single one of the major characters (and a few of the minor) shared the screen at one point or another deserves a standing ovation.

To quote a friend of mine, “everyone who saw the original American Pie in the theater, owes it to themselves to take a trip back to the movies to see American Reunion.”  I’m going to take it a step further and add that this rule applies to anyone who has seen any of the American Pie movies in the theater.  Actually, let’s go even further — this rule applies to everyone who has ever seen any of the American Pie movies — anyhow, anyway.

See? Even Mr. Levenstein gives it a "thumbs up!"

Have you seen American Reunion?  What are your thoughts on the entire American Pie franchise?  Which movie and/or character is your favorite and why?  I’d love to hear from you!

For another review of American Reunion, click over to my friend Jillian Dodd’s blog.  It seems she and I agree that it’s a must see!

Friday FabOoolousness – The Titter Factor: Dazed and Confused

Will audiences ever tire of watching high school comedies and satires?  Probably not.  After all, we all survived the glory years, so why not reminisce?  Some of us were geeks, some were popular, but we can all relate to certain teenage characteristics one way or another. 

The Titter Factor has already revisited the nineties classic, Clueless; but in order to truly appreciate the high school movie greats, we still plan to ride the wave with Jeff Spicoli in the Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  But today, we remember the late seventies with the 1993 hit that left us Dazed and Confused.

First, we have to discuss the music.  It all starts with the music, and Dazed and Confused opens with the all-time great “Sweet Emotions” by Aerosmith.  Only the best films take us back in time with excellent tunes. 

The Dazed and Confused soundtrack continues to do just that with classic hits including:  “Slow Ride” by Foghat, “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, “Tush” by ZZ Top, “Love Hurts” by Nazareth, “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Kiss, and “Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  The movie’s soundtrack was so red-hot, that a second album followed in 1994 leaving us Even More Dazed and Confused featuring Edgar Winter Group, The Steve Miller Band, Peter Frampton, and more Alice Cooper and ZZ Top.

Next, it’s all about the cast.  Writer and Director Richard Linklater hired mostly unfamiliar actors at the time to star in his film depicting a group of Lee High School Fighting Rebel seniors hazing the incoming freshman in a small Texas town back in 1976

The Seniors

Randall “Pink” Floyd played by Jason London (not to be confused with his twin brother Jeremy) – the football quarterback experiencing a bit of an identity crisis.  Should Pink do drugs and party the summer before his senior year, or sign the football team’s pledge that he will not do anything to jeopardize the team?  He makes his decision late one night at the 50-yard line when he calls out his play, “Marijuana on one; Reefer on two.” 

Slater played by Rory Cochrane (CSI Miami) – most of the seniors smoke marijuana in the movie, but Slater is THE stoner of the group.  He loves calling “Shot Gun!” as they drive around town and he rarely leaves the scene without saying, “Check ya later!”

David Wooderson played by Matthew McConaughey (yes, THE Matthew McConaughey) – the token graduate still hanging around with the high school crowd.  He loves his Chevelle and he loves women, particularly the fact that while he gets older, the high school girls “stay the same age.”  He steals the show with his tight orange pants, his soft repetitive laugh, and his famous line, “Alright, Alright, Alright.” 

Fred O’Bannion played by Ben Affleck (yes, THE Ben Affleck; is there an echo in here?) – the repeat senior, the “tool” of the group.  He’s not only oblivious to the fact that it’s not cool to flunk, he actually looks forward to hazing another class of incoming freshmen.  Loser.

Darla Marks played by Parker Posey (Scream 3) – the Queen “B”; the senior girl itching to stake her claim as LHS royalty.  Darla’s character had some of the film’s best lines: “Lick me, all of you!” and “Wipe that face off your head b*#$%.”  Posey’s comedic timing is impeccable, and her stumble at the kegger while trying to be cool has honestly happened to the best of us.  “Air raid!”

Other seniors include: Mike Newhouse played by Adam Goldberg (Saving Private Ryan); Don Dawson played by Sasha Jenson (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers); Benny O’Donnell played by Cole Hauser (Chase); Michelle played by Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil movies); Simone played by Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy); and Tony played by Anthony Rapp (RENT).

We recognize many of these names today, don’t we? 

The Freshmen

Mitch Kramer played by Wiley Wiggins – little brother of Jodi Kramer (Michelle Burke, Coneheads), Pink’s girlfriend.  Mitch not only endures the worst beating by the seniors, but his courage earns him an invite to join Pink and the boys at the big keg party.

Sabrina Davis played by Christin Hinojosa – random freshman girl picked up by Jodi Kramer to participate in the hazing activities.  Her go-with-the-flow attitude also scores her an invitation to join the seniors later that night.

There are other freshmen in the movie like Kevin (Shawn Andrews) and Carl (Esteban Powell), but the movie primarily focuses on the senior class.

Finally, where would a movie be without a good story?

We watch as the seniors drive around town, cruise up and down the strip, hang out at the drive-in, play pool, drink beer and go one beer runs, smoke cigarettes (and a bit of pot), and smash mailboxes with a baseball bat, all while making their way to the party at the Moon Tower and to purchase Aerosmith concert tickets. 

Most of us can relate to the “nerd” crowd attempting to fit in with the “cool” crowd, to the “fresh meat” trying to outsmart the seniors and survive the traditional hazing night, and to the ugly effects of what it feels like to have partied all night long. 

Dazed and Confused is a cult classic

Grab your favorite paddle, and….

 “Fry like bacon you little freshmen piggies.  Fry!  Fry!”  {Simone}

And, just….

“Keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.” {Wooderson}

Have you seen Dazed and Confused?  Which character is your favorite or can you relate to the most? What are some of your favorite quotes from the movie?   Have you played the popular drinking game while watching the film (taking a shot each time Mitch touches his nose)?  Were you hazed or did you haze anyone in high school/college?  What movie is your favorite flick about high school?  I’d love to hear from you!

On a personal note, in college I drove a beverage cart around a golf course in my home town.  Matthew McConaughey’s brother was a member at the club.  One weekend Matthew came to play in a tournament with his brother, and when I filled his cooler with beer, he literally said “alright, alright, alright.”  I think I turned every shade of red and it took everything to hold in my squeal.  I kid you not.  It was awesome. 

A few more fun personal facts: I graduated from Lee High School; we were the Rebels; our class of ’95 voted Dazed and Confused our class movie; and the senior girls made “Leaving you Dazed and Confused” shirts. 

As you can see, this film holds a special place in my heart.

Friday FabOoolousness – The Titter Factor: Clueless

Comedies took over television in the 1990s with popular sitcoms Seinfeld, Friends, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.  Young viewers also found plenty of programs they could relate to in the ‘90s with the hit teen soap operas Beverly Hills, 90210, Dawson’s Creek, and Felicity

So, why be surprised with the 1995 blockbuster success of the now classic film, Clueless

That’s right – classic. 

Clueless combined humor with every teen drama stereotype imaginable: like the stress of training for a driver’s license, dealing with parents and step-siblings, partying and drugs, deciding which cliques to join, trying to keep up with style and dress for success, and, most importantly, awkward relationships.

Unknown at the time, Alicia Silverstone immediately gained star-status with her portrayal of Cher Horowitz.  Cher resembled so many of the girls in my school – exaggerated, of course.  Cher was sweet, but superficial and hailed from an extremely wealthy family.  Some would call her spoiled; she did have a rotating closet the size of most living rooms in her father’s (Mel Horowitz played by Dan Hedaya) mansion.

One of, if not the most attractive and popular girls in school, Cher uses her ability to negotiate her way out of all sticky situations.  But, when she can’t talk her way out of a bad grade, Cher decides to play cupid for the single and miserable teacher standing in her way.  

Feeling that match-making is now her calling, Cher then adopts the new girl in school, and plans to transform her into a beauty.  With help from her best friend, Dionne (played by Stacey Dash), Cher befriends Tai (Brittany Murphy) and immediately begins creating another paper-doll cut-out to follow in her footsteps.  She transforms Tai’s hair, clothes, make-up, and attitude – maybe too well. 

Tai instantly connects with the skater in school (Travis Birkenstock played by Breckin Meyer), but Cher refuses to allow Tai to date Travis; therefore, she hatches a plan to play match-maker with Tai and the popular boy, Elton (Jeremy Sisto), who just so happens to have his eyes set on Cher.

After failing her driving test, failing to successfully pair Tai and Elton, and falling for a gay, Jason Priestly look-a-like hottie (Justin played by Christian Stovitz), Cher crumbles and leans into her older, ex-stepbrother, Josh (played by Paul Rudd). Making matters worse, Tai figuratively slaps her in the face, and Cher decides it’s time to focus on her own life instead of others.  Step one – land Josh. 

Everything of course works its way out in the end, but viewers don’t get there without hysterical laughs along the way.  The movie was such a hit, that television producers attempted to recreate the popularity of Clueless with a television series, and cast many of the movie’s actors in the same roles (Stacey Dash as Dionne, Donald Faison as Dionne’s boyfriend, Murray, and Elisa Donovan as Amber, Cher’s nemesis). 

Conversations in the’90s would have never been the same without Clueless’ coined phrases: “Whatever” and “As If”.   

Can we please bring As If back? I mean, Whatever never left.

In addition to the words most repeated by teenagers across America, the Clueless writers also provided rich-clueless-valley-girl lines that Alicia delivered perfectly.

Dionne: Hello? There was a stop sign.

Cher: I totally paused.

****

Cher: Okay, so you’re probably going, “Is this like a Noxzema commercial or what?” But seriously, I actually have a way normal life for a teenage girl.

****

Cher: Isn’t my house classic? The columns date all the way back to 1972.

**** 

Girl: It’s just like Hamlet said, “To thine own self be true.”

Cher: Hamlet didn’t say that.

Girl: I think I remember Hamlet accurately.

Cher: Well, I remember Mel Gibson accurately, and he didn’t say that.  That Polonius guy did.

****

We can’t end the post without discussing the fashion.  High school girls across the country wore plaid mini-skirts with knee-high lace socks and baby doll shoes because of Cher.  What about the white, sheer shirts?  Clogs?  Platforms? C’mon, we all had at least one item in our closets that Cher wore in Clueless

Cher: Do you prefer “fashion victim” or “ensembly challenged”?

**** 

Mel: What the hell is that?

Cher: A dress.

Mel: Says who?

Cher: Calvin Klein

****

Teenage girls in the ‘90s were definitely fashion victims courtesy of Cher, and we spent too much money on our clothes. 

Clueless changed the ‘90s pop culture forever, and launched movie stars Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy (R.I.P.), and Paul Rudd into movie stardom.  Not to mention, Breckin Meyer (Franklin & Bash) and Donald Faison (Scrubs) might not have the television popularity they do today without their supporting roles in Clueless.    

Who’s singing, “Rollin with my homies,” right this very second (be honest)?   Do you believe or agree that Clueless is now a classic?  Who do/did you relate to more:  Cher, Tai, Travis, or another character? If you could have one movie phrase that was popular back in the day return now – what would it be and why?  What other ‘90s movies have you watched repeatedly that have changed pop culture forever?  I’d love to hear from you!

%d bloggers like this: