(Reuters) - It's been 13 years since the hit teen comedy "American Pie" introduced a pack of horny high-schoolers out to lose their virginity before graduation and made an unlikely star of a warm pie.
Now the gang is back - a little older if not much wiser - in a fourth sequel, "American Reunion," in theaters starting this weekend, and they are again pushing the boundaries of good taste with plenty of full-frontal nudity and outrageous behavior.
Together for a high-school reunion, and encouraged by party-meister character Stifler (Seann William Scott), even the more responsible among the group, including Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) who are now married with a kid, soon find themselves caught up in a wild weekend.
Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch), now 33 with such credits as "Harold & Kumar" on his resume, called the film "an homage" to "American Pie" in recent interviews with reporters.
"The first touched on that great period in everyone's lives where you're terrified you're not cool enough and going to graduate as a virgin - and nothing could be worse! But this one deals with the fact that, ‘I'm 30 now and nothing like I hoped I'd be,'" Thomas said.
Thanks in part to the original 1999 "American Pie," comedy movies have increasingly embraced raunchy humor, no-holds-barred sexual situations and outrageous stunts. For recent examples of "Pie" offspring, see "Bridesmaids" and "The Hangover" franchise.
"Our comedy always goes all-out, and we both love that type of comedy, and Hayden Schlossberg, who along with Jon Hurwitz wrote the screenplay for "American Reunion." The two also were the pair behind the "Harold & Kumar" raunchy comedy franchise.
Schlossberg called writing the movie "a fun challenge to figure out what the new poop joke is going to be, or how you're going to have nudity in a way that makes people uncomfortable."
FULL FRONTAL, WITHOUT THE PIE
Both writers stress that, as major fans of the original "Pie" movie written by Adam Herz, their main goal was to preserve the heart of the 1999 comedy and its great characters.
"The characters are what we loved so much about the original film," said Hurwitz. "Yes, Jim had sex with a pie, but we loved how it dealt with first love and father-son relationships. We wanted to keep that balance between raunch and sweetness."
All the players, which once again include Tara Reid as Vicky, Mena Suvari (Heather), Chris Klein, whose Oz is now a successful sportscaster, Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin), Eugene Levy as ‘Jim's Dad' and Jennifer Coolidge as ‘Stifler's Mom,' said they were eager to return.
Klein said the franchise's enduring appeal lies in its timeless themes.
"Sex - well, we're all still dealing with that," he said. "Relationships - who's got that figured out ten years later? And we laugh at that ... We get ourselves into some hectic situations, but it's OK. It's gonna happen.
"Ten years ago, we saw Jim turn around and he had a pie in his crotch. And ten years later we see him turn around, and we see his (penis)! Things are only getting worse, or better, depending on your perspective," Klein told reporters.
Back in 1999, a pie was used infamously to simulate sex, but Jim's penis was never shown on the big screen. Thirteen years later, following the increasing use of full-frontal male nudity in Hollywood comedies, Jim is caught in the kitchen with his pants down -- sans both underwear and American pie.
"When they asked me, ‘Would you be willing to show (it)?' I was like, ‘absolutely,'" said Biggs, adding that he was inclined to do "anything - as long as it was funny."