American Pie was designed to bring Porky's into the '90s -- no mean feat, since Porky's was made in the '80s and set in the '50s. Since it followed There's Something About Mary, the filmmakers were allowed to take some vulgar liberties unimaginable in the '80s. Unlike Mary, the filmmakers didn't weave a distinct soundtrack into their movie. It's impossible to think of the Farrelly brothers' masterpiece without thinking of Jonathan Richman's running chorus or the positioning of Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out with Him" or the closing "Build Me Up Buttercup" -- the songs were not only a soundtrack, they were a running commentary on the film itself. That's not the case with American Pie, which is a sleek, smooth-running corporate machine. Universal released both the film and its soundtrack, and quite a few Universal artists are featured on the record, including debut cuts from a number of new acts. If you're wondering why you don't recognize about half the names on the record, that's the reason why. That's not necessarily a bad thing, actually, since some of the debut cuts -- Shades Apart's "Stranger by the Day," Bachelor Number One's "Summertime," and Super TransAtlantic's "Super Down," in particular -- hold their own quite nicely, but the main problem is that all the songs on the album sound too damn similar. It's all radio-ready modern rock. Whether it's post-grunge pop or tempered ska-punk or lunkheaded neo-swing, it all shares the same clean production and a reliance on distorted guitars for sonic coloring; the two Bic Runga songs -- one her signature tune, "Sway," the other, "Good Morning Baby," a duet with "Dan Wilson of Semisonic" -- and arguably Bachelor Number One's tune are the only time the post-grunge bombast takes a breather. Taken individually, some of these tracks work and may sound good on the radio (for instance, Tonic's lead single, "You Wanted More," has more personality on the airwaves than it does here), but everything blends together too much to leave a lasting impression. That's too bad, because American Pie is a memorable teen movie. It deserves a soundtrack with more character.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine