7 Lessons Learned From ‘American Pie’ That Still Hold Up In 2024

It’s been 25 years since American Pie came out and on a rewatch, the sexist humor can be off-putting. However, it’s hard to set aside the fact that American Pie influenced a generation, and more specifically, the millennial generation. But it also influenced several movies that would continue to shape us — Superbad, EuroTrip, and later, Blockers — with the classic “lose our virginity before graduating” pact plot.

This sort of ethos has reverberated throughout our adolescence and now, 25 years later, there are still plenty of takeaways from American Pie. It may not have been a G-Rated classic, but it’s definitely at the top of the list of cultural touchstones. So even if the jokes don’t always hold up, these seven lessons definitely do.

Find love by following your heart.

He starts off as an insincere jerky jock, but Oz quickly changes his ways after he joins the school choir. Because he does it under the guise of the virginity pact, his friends don’t mock him as much as they might otherwise. But in the end, he realizes he actually loves singing, choosing to support the choir over his lacrosse team and by doing so, he finds love with Heather along the way. Oz still achieves “the pact,” but because he learns how to be sensitive and honest with himself, he decides to keep that intimate detail from his friends.

Lock your bedroom door.

Some lessons are meaningful and others are simply practical. The opening scene of American Pie (and its sequels) remind us that anyone can just waltz into our rooms at any time. Lock your bathroom doors and lock your bedroom door when you need some private time, especially if you’re staying with your parents! Hopefully they lock their doors too — there are some things that none of us want to see.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Everyone thinks of Alyson Hannigan’s Michelle as a total dweeb throughout the film. The “band geeks” are painted as virginal weirdos, but as it turns out, they’re just weirdos! In fact, they’re lovable weirdos. Our four main guys are so obsessed with finding the “hottest” girls that they forget to look right in front of them at the sweet, silly, intelligent women who are just as interested in sex. By the end of the franchise, Jason Biggs’s Jim falls for Michelle, wishing he didn’t waste his time in high school obsessing over the popular and stereotypically “hot” women.

Women come first.

Thomas Ian Nicholas’s Kevin learns that sex isn’t all about him. He began the movie as the only guy with a girlfriend, Vicky (Tara Reid), but by the end of the film, they decide to break up after losing their virginities to one another. Kevin is so blinded by the ultimate goal of sex that he forgets what sex is all about — intimacy, love, and pleasure for both people. When he reads the “Book of Love,” he learns how to make sure his partner is also enjoying herself, something that’s still relevant and practical today. 

Setting goals with accountability buddies can be helpful.

Funnily enough, all the men achieve the goal of losing their virginities before they finish high school, just not how they thought it would happen. Even still, setting a goal and holding each other accountable definitely helped push them over the finish line. We can apply this to all areas of life: dating, career, health, finances, and more. Aim to save $5000 by the end of the year, make a plan, and you might surprise yourself!

When our parents are awkward, it’s because they care.

There’s no one more endearing than Eugene Levy’s father figure in American Pie. He ends up in the most uncomfortable situations, and as we get older, we can empathize with him more and more. But he tries, and that’s evident. Not everyone has the best parents in the world, but perhaps we should extend a little grace to them in awkward situations because at the end of the day, they just want us to be happy and healthy. And when we have kids of our own, let’s remember not to make them feel uncomfortable, perhaps by being sex-positive their entire lives so that there’s no shame around it.

Beauty and pain are not mutually exclusive—multiple things can be true.

American Pie is all about sex, which can be both a beautiful and painful experience. This extends throughout the rest of the movie, particularly when Jim’s dad tells him, “I want you to be very, very careful when you’re putting on the corsage.” While this may have been a discreet euphemism for sex (a beautiful flower with a prickly pin), it’s also an example of how experiencing sexual firsts can also be mortifying, as well as physically and emotionally painful. This, of course, extends into other areas of life. 

A promotion and a raise may seem beautiful on the surface, but could pull attention away from family and friends, causing pain. In American Pie, even Stifler holds both beauty and pain as a friend. He embarasses and gets back at Finch, causing Finch pain, but he’s also a friend who invites the guys to the party where they all lose their virginities. American Pie may seem like a simple teen romp on the surface, but deep down, it’s full of sincerity, ingenuity, and vulnerability. Just like how things can be beautiful and painful, multiple things can be true. American Pie is the epitome of its own greatest lesson.

About the author

Jamie Lerner

Jamie Lerner is a writer, comedian, and musician who’s been writing about television and movies since she reviewed Mean Girls for her fifth-grade school newspaper.