1999's American Pie was the first entry in the long-running series, and is often considered by critics to be the best of the bunch. The first in a short wave of raunchy turn-of-the-millennium teen sex comedies, American Pie combines an over-the-top sense of humor with a surprising amount of earnestness, earning it a unique place in the pantheon of gross-out comedies. While the humor within is certainly crude and often childish, the unique take on the story helped to re-establish a genre and launched the careers of several young stars.
The movie's plot cribs from the best of the 1980's and 1990's, featuring four friends who make a pact to lose their respective virginity before the end of the school year. Among the group are Jim (who has his eye on foreign exchange student Nadia), Kevin (who struggles with relationship issues), Oz (a jock without a girlfriend) and Finch (the oddball). The four are joined by other memorable characters to create a romp through high school that is at times incredibly overdone and at others remarkably honest. One of the first films of the era to bring back extreme language and nudity to teen comedies, it plays faster and looser with many of the rules of film-making than those that would come after it.
The plot manages to take the boys from high school parties to the senior prom, with various stops along the way to examine both their friendships and their relationships. A variety of escapades happen along the way, including a memorable scene with the titular pie. Though one might be surprised by the manner in which things turn out in the end, following the plot is easy enough that one can step into the movie even at the halfway point and still figure out what is going on. It may not be the most plot-dense film every made, but it still brings the laughs.
This first film in the franchise is possibly better known for its side characters than its main stars. Seann William Scott as Stifler and Alyson Hannigan as Michelle certainly stand out, and a variety of other stars (including John Cho) can be seen early in their careers during this film. The combination of great acting and a unique script help the movie to stand out in a field of imitators, and those who have never seen the movie are certainly in for an experience that will be hard to forget.