One time, at Band Camp with Judge Patrick Naugle...
Our review of American Pie, published December 10th, 1999, is also available.
You never forget your first piece.
Coming out of nowhere, American Pie became a smash hit at the box office and spawned five sequels (to date), including the upcoming reunion film American Reunion (natch). Now you can see where it all started with American Pie (Blu-ray), courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment.
Facts of the Case
Four high school buddies are about to have the senior year of their lives, when they make a pact to lose their virginity before the end of the school year. The sexually frustrated Jim (Jason Biggs, Wedding Daze), with a meddling but well-meaning father (Eugene Levy, Waiting for Guffman), eyes a sexy foreign exchange student (Shannon Elizabeth, Scary Movie). Confident Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas, Rookie of the Year) is hoping have his first time with his attractive but inexperienced girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid, National Lampoon's Van Wilder). Athletic Oz (Chris Klein, Election) must choose between his lacrosse team and a shy choir girl (Mena Suvari, American Beauty). Finch, the worldly eccentric (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), has been spreading rumors around school that he's a lover of incomparable talents. As prom night creeps ever closer, each of these young men will find themselves in comprising potions, awkward moments, and hopefully someone else's bed!
In one sense, American Pie can be viewed as yet another entry in the long and arduous teen sex comedy genre. It certainly has all the trappings—horny teenagers, attractive women, gross out pranks—yet has found a larger audience and fan base because its cast is genuinely likable and memorable. Call it a diamond in the rough.
American Pie features some fresh faces in star turns (or at least career making turns) as high school students learning all about sex, its pitfalls, and possibilities. These are all people you could easily gone to high school with. These actors aren't generic, cookie-cutter youths who just waltzed off a CW series. The women are all good looking, but not overtly so (save for Shannon Elizabeth, who is supposed to be smoking hot for the sake of the story). The guys are all regular looking and I actually bought them as high school age. Imagine that. Actors who actually look like they're playing teenagers instead of thirty-somethings trying to squeeze into high school gym shorts!
Another joy of American Pie is its supporting cast, like comedic icons Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge (Best in Show), both of who give the movie a bit more depth. A scene involving Jim's dad trying to teach his son about the female form by using a paper bag full of pornographic magazines shows off how vital these characters are in making these young men feel like real teenagers.
With well over a decade under its belt, American Pie looks positively tame when compared to current ten sex comedies (the ante is always being upped). For those who need the gross-out factor, it's here in spades: watching Sean William Scott's (Role Models) character gag on a cup of beer filled with another man's semen is still laugh-inducing.
American Pie isn't a perfect movie. A subplot involving the girls wanting to date Finch because of his rumored enormous genitalia feels slightly disingenuous. I found it hard to believe so many women would talk so openly about the size of another student's junk. The end of the movie also buckles under the weight of what came before, focusing so heavily on everyone trying to get laid, then turning around to offer a mixed message that sex isn't the most important thing in a relationship. American Pie wants to have its cake and eat it too.
In the end, my complaints are minimal when compared to how fun it was to spend a few hours with this franchise. I enjoyed revisiting the American Pie kids, whose world feels as comfortable as an old pair of sneakers. The writing is sometimes witty, the jokes genuinely funny, and the cast warmly received in their roles. This is a comedy worth taste testing.
While not a terrible transfer, I don't have a ton of praise for this 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen presentation. The image is softer than you'd expect, with muted colors and black levels. Certainly better than previous DVD releases, I'm a little surprised Universal didn't put more effort into the upgrade. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sounds fine, if and unspectacular front heavy affair. Ambient sounds are kept to a minimum, with the pop songs getting the biggest boost. Also included are a DTS 2.0 Spanish and DTS 5.1 French language tracks, as well as English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles.
American Pie (Blu-ray) includes only two new supplements. First up is a three hour documentary ("American Pie Revealed") on the franchise, its origins, productions, and releases. Next is "A Look Inside American Reunion," a sneak peak at the newest film in the series. The rest of the bonus features are ported over from previous DVDs, including deleted scenes and outtakes, an audio commentary with various cast and crew members, casting tapes, a "Spotlight On Location" featurette, a photographic montage with director and producer commentary, poster concepts for the film, and featurette titled "100 Years of Universal: Unforgettable Characters" which is just an extended promo for other Universal titles. Bonus DVD and digital copies are available for your PC or portable device.
American Pie is still raunchy fun with a lot of heart. What sets it apart from other teen romps is that we actually care about these characters and what happens to them. It's worth watching with someone you love…or, as Steve Stifler would say, "just want to bone."
Not guilty. A slice of good old-fashioned teenage fun.
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