Comedy is a product of its time. What is funny to one generation is utterly repellent to another. And this makes comedy remakes and reboots hard to pull off, as sometimes a previously hilarious concept simply can’t survive the update. Because of this, comedy history is littered with failed reboot attempts. And right now, a very controversial comedy reboot is shooting up the streaming charts.
According to FlixPatrol, 2020’s American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules is the 5th most popular movie on HBO, beating out Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984. The film is the 5th film in the American Pie Presents franchise. Which itself is a spin-off of the American Pie sex-comedy franchise that started in 1999.
American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules follows four friends, Annie, Kayla, Michelle, and Stephanie. The girls are all seniors at East Great Falls. They decide to team up to help each other get something they want. This includes everything from losing their virginity to blackmailing a perverted principal into retiring. Of course, in true American Pie fashion, these plans go anything but smoothly, and chaos quickly ensues, leading to many comedy setpieces.
As the film is a gender-flipped version of the franchise, made years after the original, some changes were made due to changing standards. In an interview with lrmonline.com, director Mike Elliott said that while he was a fan of the original American Pie, he was aware that many scenes from that movie wouldn’t be acceptable today. But he also noted that changing the focus to teen girls meant that a lot of the original‘s jokes wouldn’t work anyway, regardless of appropriateness.
Later in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment, Elliott said that the film was a much more innocent picture than previous entries in the franchise. However, he pointed out that this didn’t mean the movie had no dirty jokes, even saying he had a nude scene planned for Zachary Gordon’s character that ended up being vetoed by Universal. Elliott pointed out that this was due to a historic double standard about nudity in Hollywood. “Ever since there’s been movie ratings, there’s been this uncomfortableness that’s applied to male nudity, and not female nudity,” explained Elliott before noting that he hoped the scene could be restored in a later cut of the film.
However, despite these controversies, both audiences and critics were pretty united when they reviewed the film. In fact, both hated it. The film has a 30% critic score and a 16% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Many reviews pointed out that a movie about teenage girls would have likely worked better with a female director. Others argued that the film was simply formulaic and lacked the memorable characters of previous films. Which meant that everything felt like a collection of disjointed sketches rather than a complete narrative.
It isn’t hard to see why American Pie Presents: Girls’ Rules is shooting up the streaming charts as people are keen to find out how the pre-release controversy translated into an on-screen experience. So if you want to explore this reboot of a late-90s classic, now is the perfect time to do it.