These movies arrive on video store shelves this week.


(R, 1999, 96 minutes, Universal)

As funny as it is filthy (and surprisingly sweet), "American Pie" charts the travails of four adolescent male virgins desperately trying to get deflowered by senior prom night. Jim (Jason Biggs) is a compulsive masturbator, Oz (Chris Klein) is a popular though shallow jock. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has a girlfriend who's holding out on him and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a restroom-phobic nerd. One of the things that separates this original film from the pack is the fact that in any other teen sex farce, none of these types would even speak to the others. Here, they're just four very real kids (not cliches), united in the same prurient mission that has driven the human species forward since the dawn of man. "American Pie's" ribald, cherchez-la-femme humor may make "There's Something About Mary" look like "Mary Poppins," but don't worry -- its innocent intentions and heart of gold remain uncorruptible. What doesn't it contain? No violence but profanity aplenty, sex, partial nudity, masturbation, incontinence and body fluids.

-- Michael O'Sullivan


(R, 1999, 81 minutes, Columbia-TriStar)

If you thought Germans can't lighten up, catch this kinetic, music-driven experiment in surrealistic time travel. In the story a young woman called Lola (Franka Potente) has to troubleshoot when her boyfriend (Moritz Bleitreu) misplaces a bag of dough belonging to a ruthless gangster. Forced to retrieve the money in 20 minutes, she starts running across town. Lola runs and runs. And when she doesn't lick the problem the first time, she gets to turn back the clock and try again -- thanks to a deific act of hip, Berlin scriptwriting. Run, Lola, run! Produced by a vital German outfit known as X-Filme, and written and directed by Tom Tykwer, this effortless, lighthearted film pulsates with originality. Contains some sexual situations and thematic forebodings but little to justify the R rating.

-- Desson Howe


(R, 1999, 142 minutes, Touchstone)

Like the pages of a scrapbook from the summer of 1977, director Spike Lee's hyperactive film takes only the most cursory look at what it was like during the heyday of punk, disco, "I'm with Stupid" T-shirts and Jordache jeans, when serial killer David Berkowitz captured headlines and the imagination of a terrified New York City. Here, the so-called Son of Sam (Michael Badalucco) is only a sideline to Lee's main story, which concerns a couple of Italian American friends from the Bronx (John Leguizamo and Adrien Brody) and their reactions to the crime wave. Unfortunately, nothing that happens to them is half as interesting as what is going on in Son of Sam's fevered brain and, except for a laughable scene where we see the killer taking orders from a black dog, the filmmaker won't let us go there. Contains graphic shootings, frequent profanity, mob violence, sexual activity, nudity and drug use.

-- Michael O'Sullivan