American Pie Films Ranked from Worst to Best

If you do not wish to read the entire post, here is the ranking as a tier list (made with TierMaker). 

B (SOLID): American Pie

B-/C+ (FAIRLY DECENT): American Pie 2

C/C- (MEDIOCRE): American Wedding, American Reunion

D+/D (BAD): American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rule, American Pie Presents: Beta House

D- (AWFUL): American Pie Presents: Band Camp

F (ABYSMAL): American Pie Presents: The Book of Love, American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile

Recommended Film to Watch First: American Pie

DO NOT WATCH: Any of the American Pie Presents spin-off films


An Introduction

American Pie.  A relic of an era of popular teen comedies (the 1990s to the early 2000s, in my opinion; I consider Mean Girls to be the last hurrah for these types of movies).

Adolescence is a transitional period of physical changes and psychological development, and with that comes shifts in moods, questions about identity, and desires to try new things – all of which sprinkled with awkwardness from time to time.  American Pie, a 1999 comedy film, aimed to capture several of these elements (and more), resulting in an effective blend of cringe and dirty humor (of which I will be leaving out specific details).  Grossing over $230 million against an $11 million budget and receiving some critical praise for its humor, the movie was followed up with three direct sequels and a spin-off series of direct-to-video films.  American Pie, whose title I will not explain, quickly became a franchise.

As you can see from the tier list above, I do not think that any American Pie film is “great”; however, that does not mean that these films are immediately unenjoyable.  The first film was tentatively titled Untitled Teenage Sex Comedy That Can Be Made For Under $10 Million That Most Readers Will Probably Hate But I Think You Will Love, and I believe that does reflect the fact that at their best, American Pie films, while having fairly weak plots and poorly-developed characters, are abundant in strong and appealing humor, which largely comes from how they effectively capture the adolescent awkwardness that many adults, myself included, are continuing to try to leave behind. 

I am a firm believer that humor is a powerful tool for establishing and strengthening human connections.  Effective humor taps into common understandings, experiences, and felt emotions among a wide assortment of people, and that is the most notable strength of the original American Pie series.  While coming from a different background and upbringing from the protagonists, I found several (not all) of these films’ jokes to be hilarious, and that is because I have experienced (and continue to experience) awkward and embarrassing moments in my life.  This is a testament to the transcendent nature of good comedy.

Alas, following the first film, the main American Pie series began to lose much of its initial appeal, and that is largely because (1) the characters grew out of adolescence – a key part of the original film’s humor, (2) the comedy became repetitive and stale, and (3) as expected from sequels, the latter films attempted and failed to build upon the first film’s plot (which, by the way, was its greatest weakness).  Nonetheless, I still think there are great jokes in the direct sequels, but they will never be as impactful as those of the first American Pie.

*exhaustive sigh*

This now brings me to American Pie Presents…


A Rant and Warning

American Pie Presents

American Pie Presents…

AMERICAN PIE PRESENTS

AMERICAN PIE PRESENTS

AMEEEEEERICAAAAANNNN

PIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

PREEEEEEEEEEESEEEEEEEEEEEEEENTSSSSSSSSSSS

OKAY, so spin-offs to successful films are not atypical.  Studios, of course, love to take advantage of the brand associated with their popular works and use it to generate additional profit.  Perhaps they don’t have enough money in their budget to afford the original actors and crew members, but they still try to take as much creative material as possible from their inspirations.  Sometimes, this process works well, especially in television, but usually, spin-offs end up as inferior to their original works.  The American Pie Presents series is no exception as it pompously neuters the admirable aspects of the original series and leaves the audience with a cheap shell of the original American Pie name.

American Pie Presents is a off-brand, store-bought version of the original American Pie.

Instead of maintaining and building upon the cringe comedy that was key to the original American Pie humor, American Pie Presents, despite having teen protagonists, minimizes awkwardness and amplifies raunchiness in its humor.  At their best, the jokes are stale repetitions of the first film’s jokes, but such moments are rarities in this abundance of bad comedy. 

Say it with me: Being gross, dirty, or offensive does NOT, in and of itself, make for good comedy. 

In my opinion, when presented in a non-endearing manner, or when done (better) numerous times in the past, these types of jokes become lazy and lack the aforementioned appeal of good humor, likely triggering feelings of disgust, anger, and dread.

Putting aside the “humor” of these films, we are left with horrible plots led by terribly-written characters…

which…

brings…

me…

to…

Stifler.

Stifler… Stifler… Stifler…

https://www.photojoiner.net/image/7KEZJD1r
A bad collage of some members of the Stifler family.
Top: Steve Stifler.
L-to-R: Erik Stifler, Dwight Stifler, Matt Stifler, Steph Stifler

(Potential Hot Take Warning!) I believe that Steve Stifler was the most annoying character in the original American Pie Series, but I was also a fan of many of the scenes in which he appeared.  This is because he was clearly intended to be annoying, which often led to hilarious consequences.  In other words, Steve Stifler himself was not a humorous character; instead, the appealing humor surrounding him came from the fact that he himself was a joke.

In the spin-off films, however, Stifler-type characters (many of whom are related to Steve Stifler) are the protagonists (or primary supporting roles), and they are written in a manner in which the audience is somehow supposed to empathize with them.  A Stifler going through character development is not something anyone needs, or wants, to see. Again, American Pie films do not have great storytelling, and this fact is made worse when such tales are centered on the least likeable character who was never meant to be taken seriously.

This is not an attack on any of the Stifler actors; rather, this is a critique on writing.

Look, I can spend a lot of time explaining everything wrong with these four direct-to-DVD films (and the one direct-to-DVD-then-Netflix-because-it’s-2020 film), but I think I have clearly made my point several paragraphs ago.  While I would say that Girls’ Rules and Beta House are the most tolerable of this spin-off series, I urge you all to steer clear of any film that starts with “American Pie Presents”


Alrighty, Then!

BOTTOM 3TOP 3
7. American Pie Presents: Band Camp3. American Wedding
8. American Pie Presents: The Book of Love2. American Pie 2
9. (THE WORST) American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile1. (THE BEST) American Pie

9.  American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile (2006)

Image via Universal Home Entertainment, Rogue Pictures

TL;DR Review: This film is dreadful in every sense of the word.  I only laughed once and it was only to a reference to a joke from the first American Pie.  That laugh came from replaying that joke in my head, not the joke in this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 0% (are you even surprised?)

Metascore: N/A

My Grade: F

8.  American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009)

Image via Capital Arts Entertainment, Universal Studios

TL;DR Review: The person on the right is me (shout-out to Neil Breen), and the person on the left is anyone involved in the making of this movie.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A

Metacritic Score: N/A

My Grade: F

7.  American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005)

Image via Univeral Studios Home Entertainment, Rogue Pictures

TL;DR Review: This film commits nearly every crime of a spin-off, the most egregious of which is giving the lead role to (a carbon copy of) the most annoying character from the original series.  The brief golden age of raunchy, teen comedies is long gone, and American Pie Presents: Band Camp proudly defiles its grave.

 Alternate TL;DR Review: American Pie Presents: Stifler-Mania!!!

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 17%

Metacritic Score: N/A

My Grade: D-

6.  American Pie Presents: Beta House (2007)

Image via Universal Pictures

TL;DR Review: Surprise, surprise – this movie sucks!  BUT it’s probably the most entertaining American Pie Presents film, and that is largely because some of the jokes are actually funny.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A

Metacritic Score: N/A

My Grade: D+

5.  American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules (2020)

American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules still
Image via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

TL;DR Review: This female-led near-remake – clearly written and directed by men – of the first American Pie is the most tolerable American Pie Presents film. This is because it tones down the excessive raunchiness of its predecessors and occasionally resurrects the cringe comedy of the original triology. However, what this film has taught me is that at their absolute best, American Pie Presents films are simply forgettable.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 30%

Metascore: N/A

My Grade: D+

4.  American Reunion (2012)

Image via Universal Pictures

TL;DR Review:  American Reunion is a narrative and comedic breath of fresh air compared to the preceding American Pie Presents films.  However, the rushed and predictable nature of this film makes it pale in comparison to the original American Pie trilogy.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 45%

Metascore: 49

My Grade: C-

3.  American Wedding (2003)

Image via Universal Pictures

TL;DR Review: American Wedding sacrifices much of the trademark humor of its predecessors in order to present a better plot.  It may have succeeded, but please find me someone who wants to watch American Pie for a good story that at best, is generic.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 54%

Metacritic Score: 43

My Grade: C

2.  American Pie 2 (2001)

Image via Universal Pictures

TL;DR Review: American Pie 2 attempts – but fails – to strengthen the fairly-thin plot of its predecessor; however, the essential element from the 1999 film – the humor – is mostly kept intact.

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 52%

Metacritic Score: 43

My Grade: C+

1.  American Pie (1999)

american pie still
Image via Universal Pictures

TL;DR Review: “A Comedic Dramatization of Emerging Adolescent Sexuality among Middle-to-Upper Middle Class European-American Heterosexual Male Adolescents in the 1990s” – a Film/Sociology double-major’s thesis on American Pie.

 Alternate TL;DR Review: I see…so THAT’S where the title comes from…ewwwwww

Rotten Tomatoes Score: 61%

Metascore: 58

My Grade: B

Published by Miles Ndukwe

Some guy with glasses.

2 thoughts on “American Pie Films Ranked from Worst to Best

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