The American Pie film franchise, which tells a tale of teens getting dirty and clearing social hurdles, has two distinct halves. The four main theatrical films — American Pie, American Pie 2, American Wedding, and American Reunion – all form a fairly consistent narrative. And then there is the straight-to-DVD American Pie Presents series: Currently, it includes Band Camp, The Naked Mile, Beta House, The Book of Love, and most recently, Girls’ Rules.
Band Camp started a rather unusual trend of featuring a sibling or relative of Steve Stifler, mostly as an excuse to recapture some of the magic created by Seann William Scott in the main series. The home video series has not received the same warm reception the main series has gotten, but over time, some entries have developed their own fans and a place in peoples’ hearts.
But which installments are the best and worst? Which ones are as sweet as warm apple pie and which would be kicked out of the Stifmeister’s party? Grab your denim skirt and pocketless jeans and don’t forget to blast some Third Eye Blind, because we’re time warping back to the 2000s and ranking the American Pie movies from worst to best!
American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009)
This entry into the American Pie Presents series is so subpar, Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t even have a proper percentage listed for it. In fairness to the critics of the world, when a movie kicks off with someone’s grandmother walking in on them pleasuring themselves, resulting in a heart attack, you aren’t exactly setting yourself up for cinematic greatness.
The Book of Love focuses on another group of hapless high schoolers who stumble onto "the Bible," a book used for a brief gag in the original film. It is essentially a sex guidebook, and they attempt to utilize its knowledge in their potential conquests. This, of course, results in a marathon of cringe-y jokes and bodily fluid-related humor. If you’ve seen any teen comedy from the mid-00s, then you’ve seen all the tools and tricks this movie uses in its attempt to elicit laughter from whoever is unfortunate enough to be watching. Even Eugene Levy — who took on the Herculean task of appearing in all of the Presents films, sans Girls’ Rules — can’t save this textbook definition of a cash-grab.
American Pie Presents: Beta House (2007)
Like The Book of Love, Beta House lacks a Rotten Tomatoes score. It focuses on the protagonist of The Naked Mile, Erik Stifler (John White), who is off to college. He is attempting to live up to his family’s legendary name, bounce back from his breakup, and, of course, get lucky with the ladies, much like every other protagonist in these films.
To be perfectly frank, Beta House is every college film you have ever seen. Jocks versus nerds? Check. Weird fraternity rivalries? Check. Bizarre head-to-head challenges? Check. A toga party? Check. Aside from, yet again, Eugene Levy popping in to lend this movie more credibility than it deserves, there is very little to set this film apart from Van Wilder, or any of the other college-oriented gross-out comedies that persisted throughout the ’00s. Beta House‘s only advantage over The Book of Love is that it is a whole 10 minutes shorter, and that it contains an early career cameo from Robbie Amell.
Do yourself a favor: If you need a ridiculous ’00s college film to throw on, try 2006’s Accepted. Not only does it take the college movie format in an interesting and mildly original direction, but it has a dude who can blow things up with his mind and Lewis Black being himself for 90 minutes.
American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile (2006)
Okay, now we’re making progress. This one technically has a Rotten Tomatoes rating … even if it’s a horrible one.
It’s fair to state that when it comes to these DVD sequels, they could’ve been ranked in just about any order and people would agree on it. Thus, as you might suspect, The Naked Mile ain’t great. The film follows Erik Stifler, who’s looking to use the titular Naked Mile event as a chance to lose his V-card and live up to his family’s name. The film is honestly very paint-by-numbers, not doing much to move the needle in terms of its characters or its jokes. It’s not without some bright spots, however: Present as always is Eugene Levy, doing his best to elevate the material he’s given.
Honestly, if you want to enjoy college shenanigans with a punchier, more self-aware sense of humor, just marathon a few episodes of Blue Mountain State. You’ll get more out of one episode than you would from 98 minutes of The Naked Mile.
American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005)
Considered by many to be one of the stronger American Pie Presents films, Band Camp focuses on the adventures of Steve Stifler’s younger brother, Matt Stifler (Tad Hilgenbrink), who, after botching a school prank, is forcibly enrolled at the eponymous band camp. This movie is honestly just an excuse to turn the infamous "This one time, at band camp" gag into a full-blown film. It results in very mixed success.
This installment has little connection to the main films, outside of an appearance by Chuck Sherman (AKA "the Shermanator") from the first film, and Eugene Levy once again lending his immense credibility to this Walmart $5 DVD bin fodder. Tad Hilgenbrink basically does an impression of Seann William Scott’s Stifler and not much else. But, in fairness, it’s a pretty good impression.
Band Camp offers little to justify recommending it, but compared to the rest of the American Pie Presents series, it stands out as one of the least annoying entries.
American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules (2020)
Be honest: You didn’t even know this one existed until just this moment. 2020 brought many weird developments into the world, but one that flew under the radar was yet another addition to the American Pie Presents series in Girls’ Rules. In a surprising twist, this newer entry is a sizable cut above the rest of the Presents films — though one must keep that in perspective, as this is still a non-theatrical American Pie film.
Girls’ Rules centers around Annie (Madison Pettis), Kayla (Piper Curda), Michelle (Natasha Behnam), and Stephanie (Lizze Broadway), a group of high school girls looking to elevate their social standing and hopefully bag a few hot guys along the way. The film doesn’t change the formula in any significant way, outside of the female paint job. But, by dropping the more cringeworthy elements that make the previous installments a chore to sit through (let’s face it, there are only so many times you can see someone make love to an inanimate object before it gets old), Girls’ Rules elevates itself. It also helps that the characters are a lot less annoying, especially when compared to those in previous outings.
Being a substantial cut above other American Pie Presents films doesn’t mean Girls’ Rules is winning awards any time soon. But if you must watch an entry in this series, watch this one.
American Wedding (2003)
Often criticized as the weakest entry of the theatrical series, American Wedding is still solid entertainment. The plot centers around Jim (Jason Biggs) finally popping the question to his girlfriend Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). Once again, the gang, sans Oz (Chris Klein), reunites for the impending wedding. This time around, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) are pushed aside to give Jim center stage and Stifler more time to get into shenanigans.
That wasn’t a bad decision, really: Stifler, in all honesty, is the reason to watch this one. Seann William Scott throws himself into every scene he’s in with gusto, whether he’s winning a dance-off in a gay bar, being forced to retrieve a wedding ring from dog excrement, or accidentally pleasuring Jim’s elderly grandmother in a dark closet.
The film also boasts a few legitimately heartwarming moments, such as Stifler getting new flower arrangements for the wedding after accidentally killing the previous ones and Jim and Michelle’s first dance. All in all, American Wedding is a decent installment, if only because it’s a heck of a lot of fun to watch Seann William Scott run completely buck wild with the material he’s given.
American Pie 2 (2001)
The second entry in the main American Pie series isn’t quite up to par with the first one. This is understandable: When you hinge your film’s premise on characters losing their virginity, where exactly do you go with a sequel when they achieve that goal?
American Pie 2’s answer is to send the gang on a post-freshman year summer trip, in order to reclaim a bit of the luster they’ve lost since high school ended. Finch is still hopelessly hung up on Stifler’s mom after successfully hooking up with her in the previous film, Nick is trying to keep the warm memories of high school alive, Oz is attempting to keep his relationship with Heather (Mena Suvari) going over long distance, and Jim is getting lessons from Michelle to improve his performance in the bedroom.
Most people remember this movie for Michelle and Jim’s genuinely sweet romance. Some likely also remember it for a scene where the boys get into shenanigans involving two lesbians, a blue sex toy, and a walkie-talkie’s signal getting picked up by outside listeners, which is legitimately as funny as it sounds. With all that behind it, American Pie 2 definitely secures its place as the third-best movie of the bunch.
American Reunion (2012)
What keeps people coming back to the American Pie films, especially the theatrical ones, is the endearing nature of the cast. This is exemplified in the final entry in the theatrical series, American Reunion. This film centers around the gang heading to their high school reunion, which coincides with several issues in their personal lives coming to a head. Respectively, Nick and Oz end and rekindle their high school romances, Jim and Michelle endure martial issues, Finch finds unexpected love, and Stifler, stuck in a mediocre adulthood, reclaims his former top guy status.
In all honesty, the film is really just an excuse to slide in as many cameos as possible. But beyond that, it has several charming and laugh-out-loud scenes, including one in which Stifler takes a few high school bullies down a peg by defecating in their beer cooler and destroying their jet skis. It’s also genuinely sweet to see these characters all together for what could be the final time. As a result, this entry will likely mean more to you if you grew up watching these movies.
American Pie (1999)
The original. The greatest. The king. What else but American Pie could be considered the best of the bunch? This movie brings people in with its promises of raunchy humor and sexual escapades, but what gets them to stay is its charming (if not incredibly offbeat) heart. The plot focuses on four friends, Jim, Nick, Oz, and Finch, who are looking to lose their virginity by prom night. From the antics of the incomparable Steve Stifler to Nick teaching his girlfriend Vicky what he learned from "the Bible” to Jim’s embarrassing webcam show, American Pie is loaded with dozens of insane and unforgettable moments. This includes, of course, the moment that spawned a thousand imitators and uncomfortable glances at local bake sales: When Mr. Levenstein, played by American Pie‘s MVP Eugene Levy, walks in on his son Jim experimenting with an apple pie.
American Pie could have easily been forgotten alongside the plethora of irreverent gross-out comedies that littered cinema from the ’90s to the early 2000s. However, due to its charming cast and endlessly quotable moments, this film, and the franchise as a whole, still holds a place in people’s hearts, all these years later.