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NewCityNet Pie Denied

It's mayhem when 14-year-olds try to get into the summer's R-rated teen romp

By Ray Pride

JULY 19, 1999:  Teens are pouring through the doorways of Melrose Park's Cinemark Theatre like N'Sync and Britney Spears are waiting naked inside -- or, at the very least, as if they are about to see the first showing of "Star Wars: Episode II."

Clustered in hopeful groups, nervously eyeing the cops hanging around the parking lot trying to maintain order, are fresh-faced teens who look way too young to see what they've come to see -- the gross-out teen sensation "American Pie." The nice folks at the Motion Picture Association of America have decreed that this feature is only for people over 17 and bent theaters to their will by threatening to slap fines on those found selling tickets to under-age viewers.

Thus the wait, as harried theater employees hurry to check the IDs of everyone in a given party. Behind me, a group of girls is rating their chances of getting in. "You totally look old enough," says a bell-bottom clad girly who should have not-even-15 stamped across her forehead. "And I look way old." To the front, a disgruntled older sibling has apparently been talked into taking brother and his ten friends to the not-really-for-teens, teen-oriented comedy. Obviously big bro had other plans, as his best Ricky Martin duds seem a bit tony for a trip to the show, but the gaggle of giggling junior-high types are too high on the fact that they're going to get in to notice.

But they're not getting in. And neither are the girls or the two 14-year-olds to their left, who've left their chin growth unclipped to help encourage that older look. Ricky and his crew are bonged because he isn't the parent or guardian. The girls are bonged by the ID check. And the stubble guys are simply told "Don't even try it" by an angry-looking clerk, ending up with tickets to the popular second choice , the PG-13 "Wild Wild West."

Stepping to the counter, I'm anticipating about a thirty-second transaction, leaving just enough time to snag Sour Patch Kids and a seat. "I need to see your ID," the clerk says. "Yours too," she tells my date. The shock must show on my face, along with my evil contemplation of the idiocy level necessary to have her job, because she smiles nervously, "We're checking everyone, no matter what." Buying booze or cigarettes hasn't been a problem in years, but what the hell, I'll pony it up for the R-rated movie.

But all this caution was apparently for naught, as there's a strange phenomenon taking place at the door to the theater. The stubble guys do a quick fake toward "West" before breaking for the "Pie" theater -- conveniently located across the hall -- while the police officer at the door faces the wrong direction. Guess their yelling "Fuck the ratings" on the way in wasn't a dead giveaway.

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