08th Oct2020

‘American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Madison Pettis, Lizze Broadway, Natasha Behnam, Piper Curda, Darren Barrett, Sara Rue, Jeannie Elise Mai, Lily Bleu Andrew, Stephanie Wong, Lucas Adams, Barry Bostwick, Lisa Linke, Rasheda Crockett, Zayne Emory, Camaron Engels, Zachary Gordon, Clint Howard, Dylan Lawson, Robert Peters, Ed Quinn, Danny Trejo, Christian Valderrama | Written by Blayne Weaver, David H. Steinberg | Directed by Mike Elliott

It’s senior year at East Great Falls High and Annie, Kayla, Michelle, and Stephanie decide to finally harness their girl power and band together to get what they want. The boys won’t know what hit them when these sassy sweethearts are calling the shots.

It’s hard to believe that its been 11 years since the last American Pie Presents film and 8 years since American Reunion but here we are, in 2020, with a new American Pie film, this time with a more feminist slant; following four female leads as they stumble – as clumsily as Jim did in the original film at times – through navigating their sexuality and exploring what they want from life.

This latest slice of American Pie, American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules, comes from Universal 1440, the direct to market arm of Universal which has consistently put out direct to DVD sequels to a myriad of different franchises like Death Race, Bring It On, Jarhead, Tremors, Sniper, Scorpion King and more. Not ALL of those sequels have been a success – in particular the last two comedy sequels: Bulletproof 2 and Benchwarmers 2, both of which disappointed this fan of the original movies. However the American Pie franchise already made good on its previous sequels, so the risk factor here for a less-than-stellar film is pretty low. Even more so with American Pie 2 story co-creator David H. Steinberg co-writing this NINTH entry in the franchise.

Interestingly American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules is actually MORE raunchy than the original films – though it lacks the warmth and heart that the original film did, seemingly compensating by upping the raunch factor. However the film has to be commended for presenting a whole cadre of women who are confident in themselves and their sexuality; its not often you see female characters in teen comedies treated just like the men are. Yet whilst these young women are presented as strong-willed, it’s still a man they fawn over, be it the aforementioned Grant or Annie’s college-bound boyfriend Jason. Perhaps a sign that there should have been more women behind the camera?

The filmmakers outline EXACTLY what they have planned for this film when the lead characters discuss MORP around a campfire whilst getting drunk. Morp you see is a reverse prom (literally, morp is prom in reverse), where girls take charge of their own lives, conventions are flipped and ask the guys to the prom… And that’s what American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules does – it flips the franchise on its head, showing us the story from the girls perspective. Think of it as seeing the life of Michelle rather then Jim. We even get a Michelle equivalent in Grant, a newcomer to school… who went to band camp!

Unfortunately was is missing from American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules, what keeps it from hitting that American Pie sweet-spot is Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad. Even in the previous films he made an appearance, proffering his particular brand of wisdom, but here he’s sadly missing. I did however appreciate Ed Quinn’s effort as Annie’s dad – he may not be Eugene Levy but he still managed to play the caring father figure well, especially when offering Annie advice on her love life. Though if we’re talking adults in this movie, the real star standout here is Sara Rue as Grant’s mum Ellen – who is also the new principle of East Great Falls High! Her character embodies all that is good about being a strong woman: confident, caring and ridiculously funny. Like really funny. In fact she gets a LOT of the films biggest and best laughs.

With some nice nods to the American Pie franchise and the teen movie genre as a whole, American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules is a much-welcome addition to both.

**** 4/5

American Pie Presents Girls’ Rules is out on DVD, in the US, now.

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