Great Character Moments: Noah Levenstein from American Pie (1999)
Character: Noah Levenstein
Actor: Eugene Levy
Film: American Pie
Role: Awkward, geeky, and genuinely good-intended father of Jim Levenstein.
Noah Levenstein is a good-natured working dad with a growing concern for his now sexually curious teenage son Jim (Jason Biggs), who finds himself in increasingly embarrassing situations as he experiments with his urges. Noah even finds his son lying on top of a homemade fruit pie with his pants down, simulating sex, right in the kitchen. But Noah is not one to overreact and feels his son just needs some guidance, so takes it upon himself to educate the boy on the female form, and some possible alternatives for handling his needs. Noah is a sweet man whose only intention is to help Jim and shares a strong connection with his testosterone filled boy and his friends, becoming a kind of mentor and true confidant.
The Moment: Jim is a curious boy and like his friends, has sex on the mind all the time. He has made a pact with them to lose their virginity before high school graduation and while they each set their sites on specific girls, Jim is only interested in Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), a beautiful, buxom exchange student living in his house. With not much confidence and no experience, he listens to his friend Oz (Chris Klein),who tells him that “third base” with a girl feels like warm apple pie, which prompts Jim to actually try it, climbing onto a fresh baked pie his mother made. Of course, Noah discovers this and begins to realize Jim needs some fatherly advice. A bit later, when Jim comes out of his bedroom, Noah is standing in the hallway waiting for him and directs Jim to look at the family portrait. He starts with some small talk but then bluntly explains that he wants to talk about masturbation, which momentarily puzzles Jim, but he continues to listen. Noah doesn’t mince words and confesses to his own behavior when he was young and then draws attention the his wife in the photograph, stating that he found a partner. He then questions Jim about his intention in finding a partner and if this something he would like. Satisfied by Jim’s answer of “yes”, he pats his boy on the back and nods with contentment (and a little relief).
Why It Matters: Is there anything more embarrassing than the birds and the bees talk with a parent? It’s been the source of jokes and gags in movies for decades and while it’s played for laughs here, it’s a little different and more memorable because there is a wonderful sense of sincerity about Noah that makes him so approachable. His open-mindedness and honesty are what make Jim so comfortable and willing to listen. Sure, it’s a little awkward. Jim’s a teenager, and he knows enough about girls and girl parts to probably fumble his way through his first encounter, but he doesn’t shy away from his dad’s rather clinical advice, instead squirming a bit at the word choices but knowing there’s things to be learned from his father. In fact, there is a real sense that he his eager for the words of wisdom, and thankful for the talks. Meanwhile, Noah believes the best thing he can do for Jim is to offer the most accurate and straightforward explanations possible. He is sensitive to Jim’s curiosity and doesn’t treat him like he’s ignorant, only inexperienced. His candid attempts at sounding cool and hip to teenagers is also very endearing. This respect and sincerity gives Noah a level of trust that makes him very popular with Jim and his friends and reason why he remains one of the most beloved characters in the American Pie franchise.