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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » National Lampoon's Adam and Eve
National Lampoon's Adam and Eve
New Line // R // February 7, 2006
List Price: $19.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 5, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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Okay, American Pie had a guy banging a pastry, and one of his friends chugged semen-tainted booze, but a lot of the knockoffs that quickly followed forgot that it also had a little bit of heart in with the gross-out gags. A lot of those universally panned knockoffs happened to have "National Lampoon" somewhere in the title, but Revenge of the Nerds director Jeff Kanew and his screenwriting son Justin have tried to return to that balance of the sweet and the scatalogical with National Lampoon's Adam and Eve.

Adam (Cameron Douglas) is driving around campus when he spots Eve (Emmanuelle Chriqui) walking by, but he doesn't just admire her from afar -- he leaves his car in the middle of the road, strolls right up to her, and starts chatting her up. The two of them quickly start dating, but when things start getting hot-'n-heavy, Eve tells Adam that she's a virgin and plans on keeping it that way, at least for a while. This continues for months and months -- Eve keeps their relationship purely PG-13, and he's sick of the cold showers and blue balls. Neither of 'em can really turn to their friends for advice: Eve's sorority sisters think she's nuts for hanging onto her virginity, and Adam's slovenly roommates think he's nuts for putting up with it. Adam's convinced Eve won't sleep with him because she doesn't trust him, they have a nasty fight, a skanky girl swoops in and throws herself at Adam, and...yeah, this is a romantic comedy, so you know how it goes from there.

Adam and Eve schizophrenically alternates between a couple of drastically different tones, sometimes seeming as if it had been spliced together from two separate movies that happened to have a character or two in common. When Adam is with Eve, it's a love story; sometimes it's sweet, and other times they frustratedly bicker, but it's played fairly straight. Then the next scene'll have Adam and his booze-guzzling, sex-crazed roommates investigating whose pubic hair is in the sink or handing over a urine sample for a V.D. test to a sorostitute who thinks it's beer. It'd be different if Adam and Eve did-slash-said something funny together or if Adam's roommates contributed more to the overall story than playing the devil on his shoulder, trying to convince him to screw around and ditch his girlfriend. As it is, the two tones really don't ever intermingle, and it's a little jarring to keep stepping from Sweet Love Story Scene to Gross-Out Comedy Scene to Lovers Argue Scene to Debating If Asses Should Be Wiped Standing Up Or Sitting Down Scene.

I appreciate what the Kanews set out to accomplish with Adam and Eve, trying to add a (comparatively) mature examination of intimacy and relationships in the context of a college sex comedy. They set out to make the movie's two lead characters more realistically drawn than a couple of cariactures. Eve may be a virgin, but she's not a prude or a tease. Adam can be an asshole, but he knows it and regrets it...but can't quite get past it either. It's just that some of the sex talk, especially Adam and Eve chatting with their parents and a visit to the doctor, plays more like an afterschool special, a lot of the humor really isn't all that funny, and the comedy and drama don't gel together. It's borderline-misandronistic for a movie written and directed by guys too -- the biggest reason Adam and Eve might be an okay date movie would be for the male part of the equation to say "wow, I'd never do anything like that". Otherwise, it doesn't strike me as consistently sweet enough or funny enough to fully appeal to either gender.

Video: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen video looks nice throughout, considering the lower-budget HD photography that's occasionally aliased and sometimes looks overly 'digital'. Since Adam and Eve wasn't shot on film, speckles and film grain are obviously absent. The image is clean and detailed throughout, and I didn't spot any authoring hiccups on the DVD.

Audio: The setup menu on this DVD notes that the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (448Kbps) has been "optimized for DVD; no re-equalization required". Apparently that's code for "louder than your other DVDs" since I had to crank my receiver down a lot further than usual. As this is more or less a romantic comedy, there's not any gunfire whizzing into the rear channels or megaton explosions coaxing a massive rumble from the subwoofer. The dialogue comes through reasonably well (although there's a strange moment around an hour in where it starts bleeding into the surrounds), and music and light ambiance provide all the activity in the remaining channels. Unremarkable but fine.

A stereo surround track is also provided, along with subtitles in English and Spanish as well as closed captions.

Supplements: Father-and-son writing/directing team Jeff and Justin Kanew contribute an audio commentary. As much as Jeff talks about how awful the track is, I thought it was pretty funny, especially thanks to Jeff's dry, self-deprecatory sense of humor. "We're getting quiet. We're running out of gas, I think, on this commentary track. Should we stop and do some coke? No? I've never done coke." "You haven't? Me neither." "Liar." It's not exactly one of those quasi-educational, Filmmaking 101 type tracks, but they talk about how ridiculously low the budget was and all of the things they did to compensate, point out how a couple of the leads are the sons of extremely well-known actors, and note that the sinkful of pubic hair was thanks to the contributions of a very dedicated crew. What I found most interesting is how much of this movie was lifted from Justin's days at Northwestern, and they even point out the real life Girl Who Said No when she pops up as an extra. I might not have liked the movie all that much, but I did dig the commentary. Definitely worth a listen.

Six short deleted scenes have also been provided, running around seven minutes in total. It's all inessential plot-slash-character development stuff: Eve preaching to one of her sorority sisters about the appeal of keeping her virginity, Adam understandably wondering why Eve would tolerate someone like him, Adam and company gabbing about a job fair...nothing that funny or that interesting. There is kind of a dramatic confrontation between Eve and her mother, but it really doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the movie. There's also an eight minute gag reel...y'know, the standard "whoops!" type stuff. A bunch of trailers, including one for Adam and Eve, round out the extras.

The DVD includes a set of 16x9 animated menus, and the movie's divided into 24 chapter stops.

Conclusion: I understand what Jeff and Justin Kanew are trying to accomplish with Adam and Eve; as sincere as the movie seems to be, I just don't think they managed to pull it off all that well. There's too much gross-out humor for people who just want a romantic love story, too much romance for people who just want a mindless sex comedy, and too afterschool special-ish for all of the above...I'm not really sure what the target demographic is supposed to be. I think it's possible to make a funny, touching movie that blends all of those elements together, but Adam and Eve isn't it. Rent It.

Random: If anyone ever wants to come up with a drinking game for Adam and Eve, here's a start: take a shot everytime you see a poster or sticker for Epitaph Records, a band on Epitaph, or a Seduction Cinema flick.
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