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This Is The Correct Order To Watch The American Pie Movies

"American Pie" was not only one of the defining sex comedies of the early 2000s, but it also jump-started the careers of many now-notable actors. While this franchise isn't the first to tackle the sexual frustrations of high school, it was the first to do it in such a bold way.

Penned by then-first-time writer Adam Herz, the film was sold for a reported $650,000 to Universal Studios (per LA Times) ahead of its eventual release in 1999. By featuring the genuinely impressive comedic talent of performers such as Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Natasha Lyonne, Jennifer Coolidge, and Eugene Levy, these movies managed to land with audiences looking for a hilarious time.

Although they're not high art by any means, "American Pie" became a huge box office success and spawned a number of films as a result. The "American Pie" franchise includes the original four movies (spanning from 1999 to 2012), and then another five spinoffs between 2005 to 2020 that remain distinct from the original storyline. Each film takes place at East Great Falls High which remains the major connecting tissue for each story, regardless of how generally disconnected they seem. Because of this, it's important for any prospective fan of this low-brow comedy franchise to know where to start their viewing journey. Read on to learn the correct order to watch the "American Pie" movies.

American Pie (1999)

We may as well start at the very beginning, right? 1999's "American Pie" was the directorial debut for Paul Weitz who eventually went on to make a number of other notable features such as "About a Boy," "Little Fockers," and "Parenthood." Set in the fictional town of East Great Falls, Michigan, the story follows a group of high school boys — Jim (Biggs), "Oz" (Chris Klein), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) – as they navigate the complex dynamics of love and sex as they desperately try to lose their virginity before they graduate.

"American Pie" features an impressive cast of young actors who would go on to become household names, including Biggs, Hannigan, and Lyonne, while also creating characters who would be immortalized in American pop culture, such as the irritating but loveable Steve Stifler (Scott).

As the first film in the series, "American Pie" sets up all of the key characters and settings that you need to see in order to understand the story going forward. All the in-jokes about Stifler's mom (Coolidge) or band camp won't make a lot of sense unless it's fully understood where they came from. A big example of this is the name of the movie itself, which is a direct reference to an iconic scene in the 1999 film where Jim uses a warm apple pie for something hilariously gross, that his father Noah (Levy) walks in on.

American Pie 2 (2001)

Thanks to the success of the original, "American Pie 2" was released just two years later and directed by James B. Rodgers. This addition to the franchise brings back pretty much the entire main cast of the first film as they reunite and attempt to throw a wild beach house party. Taking place in the first summer since Jim and the boys have graduated high school and gone off to college, the story focuses on the shifting romantic dynamics between Jim and his prom date, Michelle (Hannigan), while he seeks her advice on seducing his previous crush, Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth).

"American Pie 2" doesn't break any new ground, and is really just a straightforward continuation of everything that the first movie did (with many of the same jokes being rehashed as well). Although "American Pie 2" didn't do as well critically as its predecessor, with only a 52% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it did rake in the cash at the box office, coming in at #1 and making over $280 million worldwide. What's really important about watching this film right after the original is seeing the budding relationship between Jim and Michelle really blossom. In "American Pie 2," they fall in love and, after much fanfare, start dating.

American Wedding (2003)

After the romantic developments made in the first two films, it should come as no surprise that the next installment of the franchise is a wedding movie. 2003's "American Wedding," directed by Jesse Dylan, sees some of the main cast return, while it also introduces some new faces such as Michelle's sister, Cadence (January Jones). Interestingly, this was originally intended to be the last movie in the "American Pie" franchise, thereby closing off the series as a simple trilogy.

"American Wedding" features a host of hilarious gags, fun callbacks, and even some genuine emotional beats as Jim and Michelle conclude their story arcs which started back at prom night in the 1999 original. Unfortunately, many characters didn't come back after "American Pie 2" including Klein, Elizabeth, Lyonne, Tara Reid (Vicky), Mena Suvari (Heather), and Chris Owen (Sherman). Because a few key players are left out of this 2003 flick, "American Wedding" feels a bit anticlimactic for a finale.

Despite all of this, some critics responded positively to the film and its change in tone and move away from the total raunchiness it was known for. Famed critic Roger Ebert gave the movie three out of five stars in his review, and stated that the movie "is proof of the hypothesis that no genre is beyond redemption."

American Reunion (2012)

2012's "American Reunion," directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, is the last to follow the story of the original cast. Taking place 13 years after their graduation, everyone's favorite crass characters return to East Great Falls ahead of a high school reunion. At this point in the "American Pie" timeline, many things have changed for the former students as they've fully transitioned into adulthood. Jim and Michelle are married with a kid, Kevin has also married since breaking up with Vicky, and Oz and Heather have gone their separate ways, but Finch still desperately pines for Stifler's mom despite their substantial age gap.

But not everything is rosy. In "American Reunion," the once great Stifler has lost his mojo now that he works as an underpaid office temp, Jim and Michelle have lost the spark since having a child, Oz is living an unhappy life with a supermodel in Los Angeles, and Noah is still grieving the passing of his wife and Jim's mother. 

As the final film in the main series, it's essential to have watched the preceding trilogy to really understand these characters and how they got to this point. While "American Reunion" is the lowest scoring of the first four films, garnering a 45% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it fittingly concludes the narrative of the entire gang which started back in 1999.

American Pie Presents: Band Camp (2005)

So, this is where things start to go off the rails a bit. The next film you should watch in the franchise is 2005's "American Pie Presents: Band Camp," directed by Steve Rash. Although it was released well before 2012's "American Reunion," it is the beginning of a spinoff series that remains completely separated from the escapades of Jim and the gang. Because of its nature as the first spinoff of a more successful movie, even the name is a reference to one of the most iconic jokes of "American Pie" (if you know, you know).

The film follows Steve Stifler's younger brother Matt (Tad Hilgenbrink) who is sent to band camp as punishment for pulling a massive prank at school. The only real connection between this movie and the ones that came before is Matt's connection to his brother's legacy, which he is struggling to live up to thanks to his inability to woo women. "Band Camp" also brings back only two cast members from the original movies to reprise their roles, that being Eugene Levy (Noah) and Chris Owen (Sherman, who is now the high school's guidance counselor). Despite receiving much poorer reactions from critics and fans, and a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes score to match, this movie marked the beginning of a whole new era for the "American Pie" franchise.

American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile (2006)

Despite the unfavorable response to "Band Camp," Universal decided to continue the franchise with yet another spinoff — "American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile." Directed by Joe Nussbaum, this 2006 film stars John White as Erik, another addition to the Stifler family that has never been mentioned until this point. He is apparently the cousin of both Steve and Matt and is younger than his predecessors by quite a few years.

The story centers on Erik's desire to lose his virginity before his high school graduation, but unfortunately for him, his girlfriend Tracy (Jessy Schram) has no interest in doing the deed. As a result of his desperate desire to act like a true Stifler, she gives him a hall pass to satiate his obsession. From there, Erik travels to the University of Michigan to see his college-going cousin, Dwight (Steve Talley), and participate in the infamous "Naked Mile" run.

"The Naked Mile" doesn't really operate in the "American Pie" universe in any meaningful way aside from the Stifler family connection. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the worst-reviewed "American Pie" movies by far, with a dismal 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. However, against all odds, it was considered a financial success and made over $27 million in video sales upon its release.

American Pie Presents: Beta House (2007)

In a first for the "American Pie" spinoff series, "American Pie Presents: Beta House" continues the story set up in the previous film by following the exploits of Erik Stifler as he goes off to college following his high school graduation. Thanks in no small part to the unexpected financial success of "The Naked Mile," "Beta House" attempts to recreate the success of both the original films as well as its direct-to-DVD predecessor by hitting all the same beats one would expect from a movie like this.

By beginning the film with Erik and his girlfriend breaking up, it sets the story in motion for Erik to find himself at the University of Michigan again. Like pretty much every other entry in this franchise, they somehow managed to convince Eugene Levy to return since canonically he also was an alumnus of the college. Overall, this proved to be another poorly received movie by critics but still managed to make a decent amount of money from DVD sales. Interestingly, "Beta House" doesn't even have a consensus score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it has made over $18 million since its release.

American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (2009)

The next film in the spinoff franchise is yet another departure from the storyline created around Erik Stifler and instead follows totally new characters. "American Pie Presents: The Book of Love," directed by John Putch, follows three East Great Falls high school students — Rob (Bug Hall), Marshall (Brandon Hardesty), and Nathan (Kevin M. Horton). With little connection to all of the previous "American Pie" films, "The Book of Love" stands alone as an almost completely independent story aside from a few key connections.

This film focuses on the three high schoolers who find a secret book in their school's library, known as "The Bible," a sex manual filled with details of all the secrets they've been dying to know. One of the main ways it ties back into the greater storyline is by revealing that Noah (played once again by Eugene Levy) was the original author of this mysterious book. Overall, "The Book of Love" proved to be another unremarkable entry into the franchise with only $5 million in DVD sales.

American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules (2020)

Finally, we reach the end of our list with the ninth and most recent entry into the "American Pie" franchise with 2020's "American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules." This film, directed by Mike Elliot. drastically differs from all the other movies in the series by focusing on female seniors. "Girls' Rules" stars Madison Pettis (Annie), Lizze Broadway (Stephanie), Piper Curda (Kayla), and Natasha Behnam (Michelle) as high schoolers trying to lose their virginity.

Unlike all the other "American Pie" movies, this is actually the first to not feature Eugene Levy in his famous role as Noah Levenstein in any capacity. His absence is notable since this movie truly feels most separated from the greater franchise by being almost completely unrelated to everything that came before, although the character of Stephanie is another Stifler cousin. Nonetheless, its focus on the girls of East Great Falls High makes it a refreshing take on an otherwise exhausting series of movies. Interestingly, this is also the first movie to not have any nudity whatsoever. This experiment seemed to work since "American Pie Presents: Girls' Rules” has the highest rating of any of the spinoff movies with a 30% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.