To many, Eugene Levy is Jim’s Dad, and Jim’s Dad only. Not a cast member of the brilliant SCTV or as a mainstay in Christopher Guest’s filmography, but as the father of the guy who once fucked a pie. It makes sense, though. While a majority of the original cast from the first three American Pie films left the franchise after 2003’s American Wedding, Levy continued to appear in each subsequent straight-to-DVD installment, from 2005’s Band Camp to 2009’s The Book of Love, with 2006’s The Naked Mile and 2007’s Beta House sandwiched in-between. I hadn't seen any of the non-theatrical films, so on the eve of American Reunion, which brings the whole original gang back together again, including Levy, I decided to watch them, to figure out what the hell Jim’s Dad has been up to without Jim.
American Pie 4: Band Camp (2005)
The first American Pie direct-to-DVD movie, American Pie 4: Band Camp, follows the exploits of Steve Stifler’s younger brother, Matt Stifler (played by Tad Hilgenbrinck — he replaced the original baby Stifler bro, Eli Marienthal, who would later retire from acting). After a lame prank involving pepper spray, Stifler’s sent off to Tall Oaks band camp for the summer, where he quickly gets into trouble (sample quote: “Are you a rookie? You look lost” “Are you an asshole? You’re hairy and you smell like shit”) and is forced to meet the camp’s Morale and Conflict Resolution Officer, Jim’s Dad.
He’s working there because they needed someone to fill in for the “red-headed nympho chick,” a.k.a. Michelle Flaherty (Alyson Hannigan), a.k.a. Jim’s wife, who’s now pregnant, and Jim’s Dad is their guy. He’s the “cool” old dude, who knows that the camp’s tradition of newbies wearing beanies is “silly,” but it must be done. Predictably, he’s the voice of reason throughout — he pegs Stifler as an arrogant asshole, and likewise correctly guesses that Stifler’s enemy-turned-girlfriend, Elyse (Arielle Kebbel), is an uptight prude — and like in the original American Pie, he’s not afraid to talk to teenagers in explicit terms about sex. But it doesn’t work as well in Band Camp as it did six years earlier because he’s not talking to his own son; it’s a lot less understandable that he wouldn’t get pissed at the campers for being total fuck ups, like when Stifler is caught stealing beer in the nude, than it is Jim. Though, to be honest, there’s a clever scene in which Stifler gets his dick stuck in an oboe. Well, maybe clever isn’t the right word, but it’s a relatively not NOT clever double acknowledgment to the original film, and Levy’s look of “not this again” is great. His end-of-the-movie speech about how Little Stifler shouldn’t be like Big Stifler, not so much.
American Pie 5: The Naked Mile (2006)
American Pie 5: The Naked Mile begins with Erik Stifler (John White), the cousin of Steve and Matt, ejaculating all over his parents and grandmother, who dies on the spot. It’s that kind of movie, and it doesn’t get any better when Jim’s Dad appears. He’s on his way to a yoga session when he sees Tracy (Jessy Schram), Erik’s girlfriend, a character that he recognizes, but we didn’t know existed until 20 minutes prior. Totally not a forced plot point. But the humor REALLY kicks in when he asks Tracy, a high school girl, if she’s “ever heard of this book, Karma Sutra.” Classic Jim’s Dad. He also mentions Jim, who had “his fair share of relationship/sexual/pastry-related difficulties,” just in case we forgot who he was, and “The Naked Mile,” just in case we forgot what the movie’s about.
Later, Jim’s Dad appears again, this time at the unnamed Michigan college where Erik’s visiting his cousin, Dwight Stifler. We’re filled in on some back story: Jim’s Dad has known the Stiflers since they were kids, and he’s been receiving wedgies from Papa Stifler for just as long. It’s like The Godfather: Part II! He’s at the school because he went there as a teenager, and he likes to come back from time to time. Y’know, just sitting on benches and reading the newspaper — nothing weird about that. But wait! He’s also there to tell Erik to NOT accept the guilt-free sex pass that Tracy gave him. I probably should have mentioned that earlier, but that would require describing the plot of the fifth American Pie movie, which is called The Naked Mile in case you hadn’t heard, and I’m sorry, but no. During this conversation, he also says “my son Jim” for the 86th time (as well as the phrase “blowing loads”) and continues to dispense sex advice to teenagers. Only Eugene Levy could make this not 100% perverted, and it doesn’t seem like he’s phoning it in, either. Maybe that’s what Levy’s like in real life? He’s the Bill Murray of teen-sex-advice givers, showing up when you least expect him.
One more thing: Jim’s Dad is the “craziest bastard this campus has ever known,” according to Cousin Stifler’s Cousin, and HE’S THE ONE WHO STARTED THE NAKED MILE. (The Naked Mile involves running a mile naked.) If you just said, “Record scratch,” I don’t blame you. Sadly, Levy doesn’t take his clothes off. Sorry, fellas.
American Pie 6: Beta House (2007)
It’s nearly 50 minutes into Beta House before we see Jim’s Dad for the first time. Don’t worry, though, because the wait is worth it: he’s the house council/alumnus for the fraternity where the Stifler Cousins are pledging, and he’s getting the guys out of jail. OK, the wait actually wasn’t worth it. He does hold a briefcase, however, and gets to say, “I would crush those geeks with every Beta muscle in my body.”
I can’t help but wonder: how bad must his marriage with Jim’s Mom be? He’s never at home, he talks about the Greeks a lot, and he prefers hanging out with teens than he does his own wife — male teens, at that. NOW, I’m not implying anything, but…it really makes you think, assuming you think about the possibly homoerotic activities of a character in a direct-to-DVD movie.
Anyway, he’s the master-something of the Greek Olympiads at the fraternity, which…OK, nope, he’s definitely gay. In the scene pictured above, he goes on a long speech about male Olympians who were covered in oil and wore short skirts. Later, he officiates a “Greek Roulette” contest involving semen. I hope there’s a scene in American Reunion where Jim’s Dad comes out to Jim, and the rest of the movie is focused on him learning to be a middle-aged gay man. Then it gets its own DVD spin-off, called Epiloguers. I would watch that.
American Pie 7: The Book of Love (2009)
To quote Stephin Merritt from the Magnetic Fields: "The book of love is long and boring." He wasn't talking about the seventh American Pie movie, but he might as well have been. If you watch all the DVD movies in a row, like I did, you get real tired of boob and fart jokes. I didn’t even laugh when the new protagonist (I’m using the term very loosely — though Bug Hall, of The Big Green fame, is an inspired choice) fucked his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, while DAY DAY BOW played. What’s happening to me???
(Maybe I laughed a little.)
((Later, some guy, over the soothing sounds of Fall Out Boy’s “Dance, Dance,” says, “This is for Sit-On-My-Facebook.” I didn’t laugh at that.))
Anyway, three virgins find The Bible, which has nothing to do with God and everything to do with getting freaky. Turns out, it written by…Jim’s Dad!…in the summer of 1969, because of course it was. Jim’s Dad tells the NERDS the history of the book, while driving around on a golf cart in the carpet store he apparently owns. (I thought he was a lawyer?) Then there’s a montage with Bret Michaels and the phrase “tongue tornadoes.” I’m sorry, but I can’t go on any further. It’s not just the Bret Michaels and tongue tornadoes, though those certainly don’t help — what bugs me the most about Jim’s Dad in the later films, or at least what irritates me about the plots with Jim’s Dad, is that the teenagers seek out his guidance; he’s the master, they’re the student. That’s not how it was in the original(s). Jim looked pained to hear his dad talk about masturbation, which is the way a teenager would respond when they hear someone in their 50s talking about pee pees and the lady version of pee pees. By The Book of Love, Jim’s Dad is some master sex guru, and that’s just not funny.
In summation: the four direct-to-DVD American Pie films make me appreciate Jason Biggs, and that’s not a compliment to Jason Biggs. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch Loser and listen to “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus until Epiloguers is made.
Josh Kurp thinks American Pie 2 has the best soundtrack of the series, due to Green Day’s “Scumbag.”