Directed by: Joe Nussbaum
Written by: Eric Lindsay
Starring: John White, Jessy Schram, Steve Talley, Christopher McDonald, Eugene Levy
Going from theatrical release to straight to video typically shows the decline of a franchise in a big way and that happens to be the case for the American Pie franchise. The merits that existed from the original trilogy get lost when they started to get pushed out simply from brand recognition, but compared to the others in the American Pie Presents series, Naked Mile brings forth its best iteration because it created likable characters.
Struggling with the fact that he’s a Stifler who has still has not lost his virginity, Erik (John White) tries to have sex with his girlfriend of two years, Tracy (Jessy Schram). After stating that she’s not ready but acknowledging that Erik is, she gives him a free pass to lose his virginity while he visits his cousin up at the University of Michigan. This weekend happens to be when the yearly tradition of the Naked Mile will take place.
As reprehensible as these films can get, especially when rewatching it as an adult, I cannot lie that I still find myself enjoying many parts of Naked Mile and the only way to describe it aptly comes from the comparison to the film that came before it. Band Camp shows the ugliest sides the franchise had to offer and created a protagonist that does heinous things and the audience needs to get over it because we need to be rooting for him. It made the film a terrible experience but at the very least, The Naked Mile created a protagonist that does not exhibit explicit asshole tendencies. Can he be a bit whiny? Sure, but at the very least he’s someone worth rooting for.
What surprised me the most after watching this film again is the possibility of themes that pop up. They are, of course, not thoroughly explored, but that was never going to happen in this raunchy sex comedy. That theme revolves around what it means to be a Stifler. That name has carried much weight in this franchise and it typically represents a guy who completely objectifies women and has plenty of sex. Erik represents the fourth Stifler this franchise follows and he appears to be the black sheep of the family, as he’s on the verge of college and has still not lost his virginity. The film built up the possibility of there being a discussion of what it means to be a Stifler when someone refuses to call Erik by his last name as they do with his cousins but it never amounts to much. A nugget of something that could have interesting but never really explored.
One major black mark that haunts this film comes from its hatred of little people. A group that opposes the fraternity that Erik visits, and his cousin Dwight (Steve Talley) rules, are a fraternity of little people. They have their playful banter but the protagonists that we should be rooting for continually calls them “midgets.” It would be one thing if the film never brought up the non-derogatory term, but they do and then proceed to call them “midgets” for the rest of the movie. At the start, I excused part of it but they must have said at least 75 times throughout the runtime of the film and at that point it just became absolutely ridiculous. I understand that it was meant for the humor, but it was never funny to begin with and it just kept going. One could easily say that it has not aged well, but considering this film came out only in 2006, it looks even worse.
As with all of the films in the franchise, the plots can be mapped out from the very beginning and the writers know it. Their plan is to hopefully throw in some funny jokes and show plenty of nudity to distract from the thin plot lines trying to take place in front of you. The Naked Mile has no real conflict, as it’s meant to have a good time and this iteration of the real Stifler, in Dwight actually feels more decent than the others in the series. He, of course, does some bad stuff, but never on the level of the others. He displays those nice moments of being the older cousin looking out for Erik.
That ultimately separates this from Band Camp for me. The characters feel a bit more real and much more likable. Even when things go out of control with what would happen in reality, you can always go back to the characters. I could not help but think that this script came together from someone who dreamed that college would be like what’s depicted in the film, but that falsehood has been peddled in many other films. Ultimately, Naked Mile still cannot be considered a good film, but it has its moments where it shines and a reason to watch it if you cannot sleep and need something in the background.