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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » American Pie 2: Unrated
American Pie 2: Unrated
Universal // Unrated // January 15, 2002
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 4, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

(movie review originally written 8/01)

It's rare that a sequel is an improvement over the original - these days, it seems like anything that makes any decent amount of money is instantly greenlighted for a sequel, but mainly, the result is not only more expensive, but less successful. I was never a huge fan of the original "American Pie", a raunchy teen-sex comedy that took the box office by storm in the Summer of 1999 - simply because it used my least favorite form of comedy, which is simply finding new ways to humiliate the main character.

A bland main character it is, as well. Jason Biggs's rise to lower-level stardom was propelled by the original's success, but I've never found him to be an engaging actor either comedically or dramatically - and I wouldn't know about drama, since Biggs has never attempted such a project. Luckily, the focus of the sequel shifts to the other characters a bit more and takes the spotlight off of Biggs's Jim. Most entertainingly, Stiffler (Seann William Scott) has a much bigger part here and also leads several of the movie's funniest sequences. Rarely have I seen an actor so joyfully and hilariously use profanity; Stiffler seems to use the f-word as punctuation to every other sentence or even a greeting.

Also joining once again are Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Oz (Chris Klein), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas). The guys have returned home from college, but there's really nothing for them to do - and they certainly don't want to be those guys that hang out with the high school kids when they return home from college. Kevin takes some advice from his brother (Casey Affleck returns) and rents out a cabin for the guys to live in all Summer. The girls from the original movie return, but in limited form - Heather (Mena Suvari) is having a long-distance relationship with Oz from France; Vicky (Tara Reid) and Kevin have moved on, but are staying friends; Jim expects a return from Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), but takes some lessons from Michelle(Alyson Hannigan) and last but not least, Finch awaits the return of Stiffler's mom, much to the horror of Stiffler himself.


The first picture had some entertaining jokes, but I felt that there was quite a great deal of space between some of the funnier jokes. For the sequel, writer Adam Herz pretty much abandons the idea of plot and goes for the jokes. Admittedly, there's nothing terribly sophisticated about any of the jokes that you'll find in "American Pie 2", but there are at least quite a few inspired moments that brought some big laughs. I didn't think there'd be much hope for "Pie 2", considering that JB Rodgers (the very mediocre "Say It Isn't So") was brought on to direct and there didn't seem to be much more to go with the characters, but the film was definitely a pleasantly hysterical suprise.

The film in theaters, according to the Internet Movie Database, was 104 minutes. Of course, this is the "pie" you couldn't see in theaters, with an additional 7 minutes of footage added back into the picture. An additional R-rated version exists, but somehow I don't think there's quite as much interest in that one.


The DVD


VIDEO: Universal presents "American Pie 2" in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The film is a return for cinematographer Mark Irwin, well-known for making comedic films like those of the Farrelly Brothers ("Dumb and Dumber") look a bit more visually interesting than the material might otherwise have suggested. In terms of the image quality, some noted that the first film did look noticably a bit dark at points. While the sequel doesn't face that problem, it's presentation does have a few positives and negatives of its own. The picture remains largely crisp and sharp throughout, but there are a few minor spots here and there that look slightly soft.

Some of the usual flaws appear, some don't. Given the fact that this film was in theaters only a few months ago, I wouldn't expect anything in the way of marks or scratches on the print used - and mostly, my expectations were met, as I only noticed one or two specks. Unfortunately, there were a few moments during the film where some minor, but noticable pixelation was evident and I think this may be due to the disc being a bit too packed with supplements. A moment or two of slight edge enhancement was apparent, but I didn't find it distracting.

Colors looked very good, through. Appearing warm and well-saturated, colors had no problems such as smearing or other flaws. Flesh tones looked accurate and natural, while black level looked solid.


SOUND: "American Pie 2" is presented in DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 by Universal. The film's soundtrack is a "comedy audio" experience, with little surround use, aside from the occasional music and slight ambience during the beach scenes. Given the material, I doubt that anyone will be dissapointed that "American Pie 2" isn't their next demo disc. Audio quality is fine, as the music comes through boldly, while dialogue and the occasional gross sound effect came through clearly and cleanly. Both the DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks sounded identical, except for maybe a very slightly fuller sound to the music on the DTS track.

MENUS:: The menus are pretty basic, but fun; selecting an option on the main menu slightly changes the picture. There's also some slight animated clips as transitions between menus.

EXTRAS::


Commentary: The disc contains no less than four commentary tracks - in other words, I spent most of Christmas Day watching "American Pie 2" over and over and over again. The first track is from actress Mena Suvari, actor Jason Biggs and actor Thomas Ian Nicholas. Suvari certainly leads the track - a rather subtle actress on-screen becomes a rather hyper one off-screen, as she comes up with some particularly funny jokes and comments about the scene that's currently playing. The other two simply tell stories about what happened on-set. The problem with this track that happens a bit with the other tracks is that, rather than combining participants, people have been spread out over four tracks and there are the occasional pauses of silence. One of the actors even says early on, "we need a filmmaker here". Still, this is a fun track that's worth a listen and Suvari's the highlight (too bad there isn't even more women taking part in the four tracks).

Commentary: This is a full-length commentary from actor Eddie Kaye Thomas. Suprisingly, the actor is able to keep things going throughout much of the track, with only the occasional pause of silence. Although he does cover the same ground at times as the other actor's track did, he stops to point out locations and has some quite funny comments about the scene. There's also some discussion about all the research that he had to do for his character. It's not as entertaining as the other actor's track, but Thomas does a respectable job, given that he's the only person on this commentary.

Commentary: This is a commentary from director JB Rodgers. As he did with "Say It Isn't So", Rodgers does a fairly good job providing a discussion of the making of the flick. There's a bit of "narration" as Rodgers occasionally falls back to simply discussing what's happening in the particular scene, but for the majority, he offers a nice chat that not only talks about working with the actors, but also points out the material that's back in this unrated edition.

Commentary: This is a commentary from writer/producer Adam Herz. This is actually the most informative track, in my opinion. As Herz was one of the writers of the first picture, he has an interesting viewpoint on the differences between working on the first and second picture, as well as some behind-the-scenes information about the writing process/deletions/alterations of the sequel. Herz even points out one line that apparently Seann William Scott got from "Evolution" co-star David Duchovny. There's a few pauses of silence here and there, but there's some good insights about the writing and research that had to be done for the film.

Outtakes: The disc offers about 5 1/2 minutes of outtakes, most of which are hilarious.

The Baking of "American Pie 2": It's a bit promotional, but this "making of" featurette does offer some entertaining interviews with the cast and crew about what it was like to revisit these characters. Those who haven't seen the film also should probably wait till after the film if they want to watch this - it gives away a bit too much of what happens in the film. 24 minutes.

Good Times With Cast and Crew: An additional montage of 5 minutes of behind-the-scenes clips.

Audition Tapes: Quick clips from the "American Pie 1" audition tapes of Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Eddie Kaye Thomas.

Deleted Scenes: 10 1/2 minutes of deleted footage. Although the scenes run together, the chapter advance/next button on the remote can skip directly to the next scene. I didn't find any of these scenes that interesting or did I think they were material that could have been in the final film. No commentary is provided to discuss why they were deleted.

Music Video: 3 Doors Down, "Be Like That".

Your Favorite Piece Of Pie: A few months ago, internet users voted for their favorite sequences from "American Pie" and "American Pie 2". The top 10 scenes (a combination from both films) are available to view here on their own.

Classic Quotes: Jump to some funny bits from the film.

Music Highlights: Jump directly to a song.

Theatrical Trailer: The film's theatrical trailer is offered, but with an intro by Jason Biggs.

Easter Egg: Look for a hidden "Easter Egg" (it's a bit of a joke clip about Easter Eggs from some of the cast) in one of the "Special Features" menus.

Also: Production notes, cast/crew bios, DVD-ROM features (weblinks), Universal Showcase (the trailer for their upcoming Matt Damon thriller "The Bourne Identity" in Dolby Digital 5.1), Universal Theme Park Ad and "American Pie 2" soundtrack spot.


Final Thoughts: I still think "American Pie 2" was one of the funnier comedies of the year and certainly a good deal better than the first one. This DVD edition from Universal provides good, but not great audio/video quality and an unexpected load of mostly solid supplemental features. Those who worry that Universal might put out an "Ultimate Edition" a few months down the line shouldn't worry this time: with four commentary tracks, this seems like the edition to me. Overall, a funny (and occasionally hilarious) movie and a very nice DVD edition. Recommended.

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