This interview was pretty unnerving. Not because American Pie: Reunion directors Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz are particularly intimidating, but rather because they’re about as close to being twins as two people with no genetic relation can get. The writer-directors met in high school in New Jersey and have identical accents, identical black hair and during the interview were sitting side-by-side in identical black suits. Apparently it’s not uncommon for people to get them confused; when answering a question Jon Hurwitz would always say, “This is Jon, by the way,” for the dictaphone, to save me the trouble of trying to tell them apart when transcribing.
If you asked me tell you which one is which in that photo on the right, I would quickly change the subject.
It’s been thirteen years since the American Pie boys lost their collective virginities and graduated from high school, so I was interested to hear how Schlossberg and Hurwitz decided what those characters would be like in their early thirties.
Jon Hurwitz: We wanted the characters to be the same people that we know and love, with the same personalities. I feel like I’m the same guy that I was when I was twenty, just in different life circumstances. Stifler was the king of his high school, so maybe he peaked in high school. He relives those glory days in his mind all the time. Jim was a guy who was sexually frustrated in high school … so present day, is his sex life thriving? Probably not. Once you figured out where they were, the comedy kind of flowed from there. We weren’t like, “OK, let’s find a place to try and put Jason’s penis in the movie.”
That may not have been their first priority, but they definitely succeeded. It will be a while before I get over the nightmares.
The original American Pie is, in my opinion, a legitimately great coming-of-age drama, but what the franchise is best known for is its brand of sexual and gross-out comedy. Schlossberg and Hurwitz are better known for their work on the Harold and Kumar franchise, which isn’t a far cry from the humour of American Pie, so I asked them how they go about writing and directing this kind of comedy.
Hayden Schlossberg: I think there’s a handful of things that are tried and true, in literature … Shakespeare had a lot of stuff that people used today and it’s called gross-out comedy. We don’t sit in a room and think about shocking things, we think about the storyline for the character and from that you think about how there can be sexual humiliation, how can there be something that’s potentially disgusting with Stifler? We like things that get the audience shouting, whether that’s with laughter or disgust.
One thing I mentioned in my review of American Pie: Reunion, mainly because I found it quite amusing, was that Jim and Michelle’s son Evan is barely in the film. He appears in the opening scene, which became the first trailer for the film, and he’s also seen briefly a couple of times within the first hour of the film. Then he vanishes and no one ever speaks of him again. So what happened? Did he really get eaten by a bear?
JH: I remember vaguely hearing the concept of American Baby at one point.
HS: It came from a place of wanting to have a story for all the characters, and there’s many, that it ended up being a situation where Evan isn’t in it as much because you’re already coming into the movie with twelve characters, and their new girlfriends and wives … there’s only so much pie to go around.
Hurwitz and Schlossberg recently found out the hard way about the hell of Chinese whispers that is the internet film news circuit when they made a joke about remaking Back To The Future in an interview. Once the original quote was taken out of context and spread across the blogosphere, the backlash of outrage was something to behold. Have Schlossberg and Hurwitz learnt their lesson?
JH: It’s a valuable lesson, especially in a print interview. There was a discussion about the concept of sequels and franchises. It all started when we started talking about how upset we were when someone remade The Karate Kid, because we were such huge fans of the original Karate Kid movies … No one else really gives a shit, there are the nerds like us who are really upset about it, and then the rest of the world were like, “Oh, The Karate Kid? That was a fun concept, I’d like to see a new version of that.”
So we were talking and as a joke I said to Hayden, “Hey, you wanna do Back to the Future?” And we were just joking around, and it got taken out of context. All of a sudden there’s these headlines about how the Harold and Kumar guys are making a deal with Universal to remake Back to the Future …
HS: And now to spite them we are doing Back to the Future. With Zac Efron as Marty McFly, and Tim Allen as the Doc.
Bleeding Cool: You know I’m going to put that in the headline, right?
HS: We know.
JH: It’s a Mini Cooper now, not a DeLorean.
I guess that answers that question.