Judge Patrick Naugle is keepin' it real, homies.
Our review of American Pie 2, published January 15th, 2002, is also available.
Porkys II: The Next Day, Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise, Hard Bodies II, Meatballs II. Sequels and teen sex comedies go together like peanut butter and chocolate (smeared across a hot teen girl getting caught by her parents in a hot tub with her boyfriend while the dog humps a lamp, of course). Joining this illustrious list is American Pie 2, now on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Having moved onto college, the American Pie gang is ensconced in the world higher education. When summer break rolls around, Jim (Jason Biggs, Jersey Girl), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Freddy Got Fingered), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas, Halloween: Resurrection), and Oz (Chris Klein, We Were Soldiers) find themselves throwing the party of the year at a beach house with everyone's favorite troublemaker, Steve "The Stifmeister" Stifler (Sean William Scott, Evolution).
The party planning doesn't go as smoothly as anticipated, as each character has to deal with their own crises. Finch is hoping to bed Stifler's mom (again); Kevin is dealing with Vicky's (Tara Reid, Alone in the Dark) new boyfriend; Jim is preparing for the arrival of exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth, Thir13en Ghosts) by practicing his sexual skills with band geek Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, How I Met Your Mother); Oz is missing choir girl Heather (Mena Suvari, Day of the Dead) who is studying abroad for the summer; and Stifler is trying to bed anything that moves, including a couple of supposed lesbian ladies who live nearby.
When American Pie concluded, our young heroes finished high school and seemingly dispersed into college, marriage, kids, and death. And that was that, right?
If you said yes, you clearly don't understand how Hollywood and it's infinite love for sequels works.
American Pie was a huge box office hit, becoming Animal House and Sixteen Candles for a new generation. A sequel was all but assured. A few years later, we were treated to American Pie 2, which might as well have been titled American Vacation. Since the kids went off to separate colleges, what's the most plausible way to get them back together? Summer Vacation!
American Pie 2 is a good movie, but suffers from "sequelitis." The freshness of the first film is gone, leaving characters we know and love in situations which aren't overly inspired. Then again, can I really blame a movie for not being as original the second time around? By definition, a sequel isn't going to be fresh, because we already know these characters, their plights, and how they react. While nothing here is revelatory—summer break has been a crutch for so many teen movies, the genre needs its own ICU—the script has a lot of fun with characters who are likable, funny, and endearing. Then Stifler, Jim, and Finch get caught breaking into the lesbian's house and…well, let's just say it's one of the funniest moments in the film. This is where I settled back and decided to just enjoy the ride.
I usually complain about movies utilizing broadly drawn characters, but in the case of American Pie 2 it works. Sean William Scott's Stifler is as sleazy and offensive here as he was in the first film, never finding a moment to evolve into a real human being. Eddie Kaye Thomas is pitch perfect as Finch, a worldly beyond-his-years eccentric whom continues to carry a torch for Stifler's mom (a priceless Jennifer Coolidge, once again flowing with as much charm as she does vodka). Jason Biggs' Jim spends a good portion of the runtime in compromising positions, including one very embarrassing moment with a porn tape and super glue. Unfortunately, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Chris Klein get the short end of the stick, with characters who just aren't that interesting.
Like the first film, the pleasure of the American Pie 2 is its ensemble. Though the ladies take a backseat to the boys, they aren't just treated as sexual objects. Aside from Mena Suvari (who sits out most of the film) and party-girl-train-wreck Tara Reid, these women (Alyson Hannigan, Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyonne) are all given strong roles. Once again, the scene stealer is Jim's clueless father as played by Eugene Levy, that a rare actor who can show up only fleetingly and leave a lasting impression. In fact, Levy was such a hit, he's the only actor to have starred all seven installments (including three terrible made-for-DVD movies). Honestly, I could spend an entire afternoon just watching Levy's eyebrows at work.
I have a soft spot in my heart (and groin) for the early American Pie films. While they routinely incorporate gross out gags, the humor is not meant to repulse but tickle the funny bone. The sexual content is played strictly for laughs (Hannigan's line "You've got to preheat the oven first before you stick in the turkey" is classic) and I found myself once again having a really good time with these people.
Presented in 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen, American Pie 2 (Blu-ray) didn't blow me away. Much like the first film, this transfer often looks softer than it should. A definite upgrade from the DVD release, but nothing here is going to knock your socks off. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio suffers from the same issues as American Pie (Blu-ray), a mostly front heavy mix with scattered directional effects (the biggest boost coming from the rock songs played over various scenes). This release also includes 5.1 French and 2.0 Spanish language tracks, with English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
Exclusive bonus features for American Pie 2 (Blu-ray) are slim, the lone feature being "American Reunion: A Look Inside," a sneak peek at the new film. The rest of the features are holdovers from the previous DVD release, including some deleted scenes, outtakes, four separate audio commentaries with the cast and crew, two featurettes ("The Baking of American Pie 2" and "Good Times with the Cast and Crew"), an unrated version of the film, and a theatrical trailer. We're also offered DVD and Digital copies for PC and portable devices.
Any movie with the number "2" at the end of it has the potential to be an unmitigated disaster. Thankfully, American Pie 2 avoids that trap by giving us characters who are amusing and lovable, even when they're being unbelievably crass. An easy recommendation for anyone who enjoyed the first film.
Not as tasty as American Pie, but still worth a look.
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