Our review of American Pie 2 (Blu-ray), published March 13th, 2012, is also available.
There's something about your second piece…
The original American Pie was a surprise hit during the summer of 1999. The raunchy and outrageous film introduced audiences to the likes of Jim, Nadia, Stifler, Oz, Heather, and a host of other wild and wacky teenage characters. The movie was a mixed message of sorts—on one hand it was a comedy filled with sexual innuendo, women's boobs, and guys (and gals) trying like the dickens to get some action. On the other hand, the original American Pie was also about finding someone special to be with, and how sex isn't really that important. Yes, by the end of the movie I was just like you—I didn't know if I should go out and get laid or attempt to have a meaningful relationship with a devoted Mormon. American Pie 2 continues the story started in 1999 with the kids ending their freshman year at college (thankfully, unlike Beverly Hills 90210, the kids in American Pie 2 don't all go to the same college). Universal gives out a big slice of love with their "collector's edition" of American Pie 2 on DVD.
Facts of the Case
It's time to catch up with everyone's favorite group of sexually experimental teens. It's the end of their first year at college and the kids from American Pie 2 are coming home for a long summer filled with partying, drinking and lots of sex…well, at least that's what they're hoping for.
A year later shows that some things have changed and some things have not. The athletic Oz (Chris Klein, Election) is still dating angelic choir girl Heather (Mena Suvari, Sugar And Spice), though her trip to Spain for the summer will put a strain on their relationship, both emotionally and physically. Jim (Jason Biggs, Loser) still hasn't "gotten any" since his prom night with band camp groupie Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, TV's Buffy The Vampire Slayer). Realizing that his foreign love Nadia (Elizabeth Shannon, 13 Ghosts) is coming for a visit, Jim must quickly learn the ways of love before he "blows" it big time. Stifler (Seann William Scott, Evolution) is…well, still Stifler, while Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas, Freddy Got Fingered) carries a torch for Stifler's Mom (who he bonked at Stifler's senior party). Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicolas, Rookie Of The Year) still pines for his ex-girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid, Just Visiting), but she just wants to remain friends. Also making an appearance is Jim's Dad (Eugene Levy, Waiting For Guffman), the sexually knowledgeable Jessica (Natasha Lyonne, But I'm A Cheerleader), "The Sherminater" (Chris Owen) and, of course, Stifler's Mom (Jennifer Coolidge, Best In Show).
Over the course of one summer the kids will learn much about the real world, lasting love, the power of friendship, and how to get two lesbians to make out. Get ready for the biggest bash this side of the pastry shelf!
I'm not one of the many who thought the original American Pie was a cinematic classic. I will admit that it made me laugh. There were many moments that rang true of my own teenage years, and some of the gross-out humor got me to chuckle more than once during the movie. However, I thought that the overall message in the film was way too mixed for the teenage crowd ("Everyone get laid! No, wait! Everyone stay celibate!"). My theory is pick a side of the fence and stay on it. As a movie with a message it stunk; as a movie filled with laughter it received above average marks. I guess that as teens we all go through the same kind of stuff, learning about girls, figuring out sex, and finding out what a "hummer" is. Yes, American Pie helped millions of teenagers figure out…well, not a whole lot. But it did make them laugh by using the old "sperm in the beer cup" gag.
So, with a joke like that how can you possibly top it? Simply: you can't. While American Pie 2 tries very hard, it just doesn't end up being quite as good as the first film.
Wait, I'm getting off on the wrong foot. This is a sequel, so inevitably the originality is going to have worn thin. Even without its polish, American Pie 2 is a genuinely enjoyable movie. Maybe it's because these characters are not all cookie-cutter versions of typical movie teens. Each actor brings a likable and distinct personality to his or her persona. Out of the entire group the funniest is Seann William Scott as the rude and obnoxiously funny Stifler. Stifler's lot in life is to have sex with as many women as possible while using the word "fuck" in almost every sentence he mutters (you'd think that would be offensive, but coming from Scott it's just plain funny). Jason Biggs is also amusing in what I suspect will be known as his signature role. Just like Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, Biggs will always be attached to his portrayal as the sexually inadequate Jim. Other standouts include Eddie Kaye Thomas as the oddball Finch and, of course, Eugene Levy as Jim's ever intrusive father. Unlike most teenage romp movies, the characters in American Pie 2 actually do some growing and a few of the stories even have a nice arc to them. While the story about Oz and Heather's long distance relationship is flat, Jim's practicing for Nadia's visit with band camp geek Michelle is humorous and even touching.
The plot is often incidental; the summer house the kids rent out is just there to be used as a backdrop for jokes having to do with dildos, supposed lesbians, and urination. I laughed very hard during many scenes, and only mildly at others. I don't want to divulge any of the comedic moments here for fear of spoiling the good stuff if you haven't seen the movie (and did anyone under the age of 23 not see this movie last summer?).
American Pie 2 was better than I expected it to be. It doesn't come close to living up to the original's freshness, but few sequels do. Instead the film is a continuation of the characters we've grown to know and love. I laughed a few times, I was interested in the story, and there were a few naked breasts on screen. I asked for little from this movie and got back a lot. My only disappointment came when the end credits began to role and I realized that apparently there wouldn't be any sexual escapades with an unsuspecting pastry.
American Pie 2 is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Universal has done an excellent job on this print. Colors look very clear with a brightness that should make any discerning viewer happy. I did notice a small amount of halo in a few spots, but this was minimal and didn't distract from my enjoyment of the film. Black levels are solid and dark while digital artifacting, edge enhancement, and shimmer were completely non-present. Overall this is a very well done transfer by Universal.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and French, as well as English DTS Surround. Both audio tracks sport a nice mix, though neither is overly aggressive. Seeing as American Pie 2 is a comedy based on laughs instead of effects, it's not surprising to find these audio tracks to be somewhat subdued. There are instances where the surround feature kicks in nicely, mainly with the rock soundtrack and David Lawrence's score. Each track sounds clear and free of any distortion or hiss. Also available on this disc are captions in English.
Filled to the crust with special features, American Pie 2 is a lot like the original as it has a lot of extra materials for viewers to shuffle through. Let's just hope that there won't be THREE different DVD versions of this film as well.
To start off the disc there's…*gasp*…FOUR audio commentaries for viewers to listen to! The first is by director J.B. Rogers; the second by writer Adam Herz; the third by cast members Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, and Thomas Ian Nicolas; and the fourth by cast member Eddie Kaye Thomas. Talk about a lot of information! The director and writer commentaries are full of information from the production, though it sometimes lapses into the commentators relaying to us what's going on on-screen (yup, we got it guys…we're watching it with you). The commentary by Suvari, Biggs, and Nicolas is entertaining with all three members sounding knowledgeable and entertaining. The final track by Thomas is very mellow and displays Thomas' exceptionally dry sense of humor (disappointingly, there are more than a few gaps in this track). Taken as a whole, all four of these tracks are an informative look into the making of the film
"The Baking Of American Pit 2" is an almost half hour look at the making of the film. Not surprisingly, this is mostly a promotional short that includes a few interviews, but overall it's just a compilation of scenes from the film. "Good Times with Cast and Crew" is another behind-the-scenes short (about five minutes) that is one long music video that shows the actors goofing around on the set. An outtakes reel is essentially a bunch of flubbed takes by the actors. Some of them aren't very funny, the majority of them are. The outtakes were probably my favorite feature on this disc. "Original Casting Tapes" are (I think) auditions for the first film by certain actors for their respective roles. The actors included on this tape are Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Thomas Ian Nicolas, Chris Kline and Eddie Kaye Thomas. Some rough "Deleted Scenes" (and extended scenes) are included that run together in sequence. There's seven scenes in all, and none of them would have added much to the final cut. A Three Doors Down music video for the song "Be Like That" is included for you music lovers. "Your Favorite Piece Of Pie" is a list of the top ten favorite scenes from both films, as voted on by fans of the films from an online poll. Unfortunately, the scenes from the original American Pie are presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and seem to look very dark and grainy. "Classic Quotes" allows the viewer to go to his of her favorite quotes in the film. "Music Highlights" is essentially the same thing, except that this time you can go to a scene that's playing a song you like in the background.
Finally there is a theatrical trailer for the film with a funny introduction by Jason Biggs, some "Production Notes," "Information on the Cast and Crew," a "Theatrical Trailer" for the Matt Damon film The Bourne Identity, some "Weblinks," information on a DVD newsletter, and some DVD-ROM features for your computer.
FYI: There is also an unrated version of this film available on DVD from Universal.
I think it goes without saying, but here it is anyway: if you loved the first American Pie, you'll like the second one as well. The movie stays true to the characters and doesn't try to do anything overly impressive. Except for a few minor exceptions the story is a nice companion piece to the original. This is a well done feat by everyone involved. Now it's time to end this series. Universal has done a swell job on this disc—nice video and audio portions, plus a lot of supplements to keep pie fans happy.
Innocent! Just make sure to grab the right tube of lube when you're gonna do the hand-jive (if you know what I mean and I think you do)!
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• Four Audio Commentary Tracks
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