ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Making It Tasty
American Pie 2 was filmed in Southern California for 10 weeks. To the many fans of American Pie, a sequel might have seemed a no-brainer. Yet it was a decision the filmmakers approached with care and thoughtful planning. "We were all very proud of what we were able to do with American Pie, and we didn't want to make a sequel if we couldn't do justice to the original," said producer Chris Moore. "So we made a pact of our own -- that if we were going to do American Pie 2, we needed to get it right. "
For the filmmakers, the biggest challenge in "getting it right" was bringing the original cast back together. "People have so much affection for that ensemble, and their chemistry is what gives the characters so much humanity," Moore continued. "Without this group of actors, it'd be just 'American Pie]: The New Batch. '"
That ensemble features Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas and comedic legend Eugene Levy.
"Having the original cast gave us the freedom to do more than just tread water with the storyline," said producer Craig Perry. "It would have been easy, but ultimately dull, to rehash the same gags in a different setting - 'American Pie Goes Hawaiian. ' Adam wrote a script that not only captures the innocence and humanity of the original, but actually shows you how our characters have evolved since the last time we saw them. "
Biggs agreed. "It did feel daunting to come back and try to do it again," he said, "but Adam Herz did an amazing job with this script. We're all put in situations that are believable for our characters, so from the first day of rehearsal, we literally picked up right where we left off. "
Hannigan savored the reunion. "As soon as we were together, it felt as if no time had passed," she said. "I love working with Jason. He's a lot of fun and doesn't care how foolish he looks. I don't think either one of us does really. It's wonderful to have that freedom. "
The Essential Ingredient
Herz and the filmmakers chose to keep American Pie 2 close to its roots. "Friendship is the essential ingredient of American Pie," said Herz. "The humor comes from the friendships we all make growing up, the people you first fall in love with, the friends who've seen you make a complete fool of yourself, the ones you hope you'll stay friends with forever. "
"The characters in American Pie 2 are the same people we knew in the original," he continued, "except they're a little older, and they're starting to learn just how hard it can be to maintain friendships. Relationships take work. Love can be difficult. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it hurts, but ultimately it's the most rewarding thing there is. "
As with any comic confection, creating a successful American Pie 2 required a capable chef. The clear consensus for director was Rogers, who developed close relationships with cast and crew as first assistant director on American Pie and made his directing debut on the Farrelly brothers' Say It Isn't So earlier this year.
"J. B. was absolutely the most logical choice for director," declared Perry. "Not only because he is very talented, and not only because he's so close to the heart of American Pie (1999), but because he has such a wonderful rapport with the actors. Plus, he knows the characters, he knows how to build the right timing, and he has a real sense of comedy. "
"I love J. B. ," said Chris Klein, who plays good-natured jock Oz and was one of the stars of Say It Isn't So (2001). "He knows how to create a fun environment on his set, which really makes a difference with comedy. "
Rogers envisioned American Pie 2 as an evolution of the first movie: "There's a rhythm and energy in the banter among the characters that we wanted to preserve - the way they riff and play off each other. There are a lot of signature camera moves from the first movie. They're designed to help audiences feel like they're still in the same comic territory, even if people aren't consciously aware of them. At the same time, we wanted to use this as a taking-off point to do entirely new things with the characters.
"Above all we did not want to get caught in a game of one-upsmanship with ourselves," Rogers emphasized. "You know, 'How can we top Jim on the pie? Maybe we could have four guys on a pie. ' So it always came back to bringing humor out of the characters, not just a string of gags. We wanted to capture as much of the spirit of the original as we could, and then let this movie find its own magic. "
There's No Place like Home
American Pie 2 finds our heroes back in their Michigan hometown, rounded up for the first time since leaving for college. It's been a year since their famous prom night of sexual misadventure, and they still haven't fully recovered. On the heels of his latest disastrous hook-up attempt, Jim (Biggs) makes the horrifying discovery that you can lose your virginity and still be a long way from suave. Good-natured Oz (Klein) must find ways to cope while his beloved Heather (Suvari) spends the summer abroad. Kevin (Nicholas) is trying to figure out whether he can be friends with his former girlfriend Vicky (Reid), who has returned from college more bodacious than ever. Budding connoisseur Finch (Thomas) is still reeling from last year's infamous billiard-table rendezvous with the woman of his fantasies, Stifler's Mom. And what is Stifler himself (Seann William Scott) up to? Basically nothing beyond setting the standard for mindlessly bad behavior.
American Pie 2 brings the guys and girls to a familiar setting - a summer beach house. "We wanted to build the comedy around situations everyone can relate to," said Herz. "Everyone knows what it's like trying to maintain a long-distance relationship. And everybody's been through that break-up where you don't know how to deal with your ex. So now Oz is learning just what commitment means while Kevin is realizing how difficult it can be to be friends with someone you used to be in love with. The humor is all about making these guys squirm. "
As in the original American Pie, while the guys keep score in the Game of Love, it's the girls who make the rules. "Girls tend to get sidelined in a lot of movies about young people," observed Natasha Lyonne, who plays Jessica, Vicky's level-headed friend and adviser. "Either they're naked, they're getting chased by a maniac with a knife - or both! The women in this movie want exactly what the guys want. They want to have fun and they want adventure. They're ready for shenanigans with the guys, but they're not about to be taken for granted. "
The sexual politics of American Pie 2 are summed up in the "Rule of Three," which both the guys and girls cite in comparing notes on their love lives. "Adam Herz does a great job of playing with the games guys and girls play to protect their reputations," said Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin). "For women, the Rule of Three is that guys always exaggerate, so if he says he's slept with three girls, it's really only one - at best. Meanwhile, the guys have their own version. If a girl says she's slept with one guy, you know it's really three. In the end, both sexes realize all the game-playing is just that. You forget about keeping score and just learn to be who you are. "
American Pie 2 takes the female characters through some changes, too. Romantic Vicky (Reid) is more experienced now and less idealistic than before. Without losing her spacey charm or her take-charge manner, Michelle (Hannigan) shows a more down-to-earth compassion for Jim. Heather (Suvari) is eager to see what the wide world has to offer her. Jessica (Lyonne) remains the most grounded member of the group.
"The women in American Pie (1999) and its sequel are in charge of their sexual energies," proclaimed Perry. "They have goals of their own, and they set the terms of their relationships. When we meet them this time around, they have become very demonstrative and confident, and the guys are struggling to catch up - just like real life!
"Comedy in American Pie 2 is never mean-spirited," Perry continued. "You laugh out of embarrassment for these guys because, lord knows, you've been there. So we give you the hijinks, along with the sweetness and the innocence behind the laughs. "
Still, it wouldn't be American Pie 2 if the summer fun didn't get a little down and dirty. "The beach house is an accident waiting to happen, and it does," promised Moore. "You will find out what really goes on at band camp. And there will be Super Glue. The rest I leave to your imagination. "
You Gotta Have Friends
At the heart of American Pie 2 are four archetypal young men who remain close friends in spite of their differences. "Kevin is the ringleader," said Herz, "Jim's the guy you always know is going to screw things up, Oz is the romantic, and Finch is basically a mystery. "
The summer reunion of Kevin and Vicky begins with a "near-miss-kiss. " "She goes for the cheek, he goes for the lip, and they land in this very awkward, off-center kiss," said Perry. "You can tell that for her, it's friendly, no big deal. For him, it's something more - or he wants it to be. It's the kind of moment that actors make or break. In this case, they nailed it. "
For Nicholas, friendship - onscreen and off - is the reason it all works. "When you see the characters having fun, playing off each other, that's us," he explained. "We come back to American Pie 2 the same way our characters do - we're already friends, and we're seeing where life has taken us in the last year or so. "
Jim, the endearing but sexually hopeless comic protagonist of American Pie 2, finds that female friendship can be incredibly helpful. "Jim's greatest nightmare in the first movie was that he would die a virgin," said Biggs. "Now he's no longer a virgin, but he still doesn't have any sexual experience. " Meanwhile, the girl of his Internet fantasies, Czech exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) is coming back determined to finish what she started the year before.
"Jim's life is one unbroken string of embarrassing moments," Biggs acknowledged. "Mortification. Utter mortification. Somehow, against what would seem impossible odds, he manages to play out every sexually humiliating experience of his life in full view of an audience. "
Desperate to confirm whether he's really as bad in bed as he fears, Jim returns to his one and only sexual partner - Michelle, the surprisingly assertive band geek. "Michelle is going to work long and hard to whip Jim into shape," promised Alyson Hannigan, who portrays Michelle. "She will teach him what he needs to know to please a woman, and she will have fun doing it. "
Oz - a. k. a. "Nova," as in "Casanova" - fell in love with a girl outside his clique in American Pie (1999) and now has to do without her. "Heather is spending the summer abroad and Oz is suffering," said Klein. "The longer she's gone, the more inventive they're forced to become to keep that connection alive. "
Finch, on the other hand, thrives on discipline. The self-described sophisticate and self-promoting ladies' man played by Eddie Kaye Thomas is studying the principles of Tantric sex. "His dream is to be reunited with Stifler's Mom as a master of sexual discipline, so he's studying eastern philosophy - saving his energies, as it were," said Thomas. "He's what you might call an extremely focused human being. "
The summer wouldn't be complete without Stifler, the bad boy gone worse played by Seann William Scott. "In the first movie, Stifler was just a fun-loving jerk, and you were just waiting to see him get what was coming to him," Scott laughed. Will he get what he deserves this summer? Hmmm. That depends on your perspective.
Besides Stifler's mom, the most important parental figure in American Pie (1999) and its sequel is Jim's loyal dad, played by Eugene Levy. "I had originally envisioned him as a stereotypical gruff, 1950's dad," said Herz. "But Eugene came in and gave him this bewildered, oddball quality. And the first time you see him and Jason together as father and son, you think - my God, that's the kind of father Jim would have to have to turn out the way he did. "
Rogers, the director, loved every minute of it. "You'd have to be crazy not to let Eugene play with his character," he said. "He's a genius of improv and brings something new and funny to every single take. Together, he and Jason were dynamic. "
For Levy, the key to understanding Jim's dad is very simple. "The secret to this guy is that he loves his son, and will do right by him at any cost," said the actor. "Whenever he sees his son do something shocking, he thinks 'Well, this is my fault. I didn't explain the birds and the bees properly. ' He's amazingly tolerant of his son's attempts to blossom. He just doesn't know how to help without making it worse. "
Music has always been one of the key measures of place, time and generation, and it defines the energy and emotion of American Pie 2 as surely as it did in American Pie (1999). The soundtrack for American Pie 2, which will be released by Republic/Universal Records, includes 15 tracks from some of today's hottest young artists and represents a microcosm of the music that will blast from shopping mall parking lots, beachfront boomboxes and unchaperoned house parties all summer long.
A newly recorded version of 3 Doors Down's "Be Like That" is the first single (the original versionappears on the band's five-times platinum CD, "The Better Life"). Also included are songs that were specially recorded for the soundtrack by Uncle Kracker, American Hi-Fi and Alien Ant Farm. Green Day's "Scumbag," previously unavailable in the U. S. , is also on the CD, along with cuts by Blink 182, Sum 41 and Oleander. The CD also features songs by emerging artists Angela Ammons and MDFMK member Lucia, as well as newcomers Flying Blind, Jettingham, Left Front Tire and The Exit.