As a huge fan of the original “American Pie,” which I consider a raunch classic, and “The Hangover,” which is a near-masterpiece, I don’t think I’m some middle-aged, finger-waving scold easily offended by inappropriate humor. But a warning signal goes off somewhere when young children are involved in any way with this kind of stuff.
Yes, I know that’s not a real masturbatory sock that lands on the toddler’s head and I know that the scene was likely shot in a way to protect the young actor’s innocence. But there’s gross-out humor and shocking humor and then there’s just sleaze. Using a kid like this crosses my personal line of acceptability.
The context here is important though. In 1998 writer/director Todd Solondz released “Happiness,” a remarkable drama about an extended family and their various personal dramas, many of them involving sexuality. The most memorable subplot involved actor Dylan Baker as a monster of a child predator who leads a shockingly normal suburban life with his wife and young son. After Baker’s character is revealed for what he really is to the whole world, including his family, his son confronts him. The scene is devastating and brutally frank. And here it was also obvious that the dialogue was written and the style in which the conversation was filmed were both meant to protect the young actor from the overall context of the scene, which was obviously horrifying.
Personally I had no issues with this scene. I thought it was handled beautifully and might have been the best moment in any film released that year. And yet, the “American Pie” above scene disgusts me.
This is probably a good lesson in why anything other self-restraint or self-censorship can never work.