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Universal Studios Home Video presents
American Pie 2 (2001)

"Oh, I can taste the bubbles!"
- Stifler (Sean William Scott)

Review By: Joel Cunningham   
Published: January 03, 2002

Stars: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Sean William Scott, Eddie Kay Thomas
Other Stars: Jennifer Coolidge, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Eugene Levy, Natasha Lyonne, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari
Director: J.B. Rogers

Manufacturer: DVCC
MPAA Rating: R for (strong sexual content, crude humor, language, and drinking)
Run Time: 01h:44m:33s
Release Date: January 15, 2002
UPC: 025192176821
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BA-B B

DVD Review

The major problem with sequels to comedy hits is that most of them simply remake the first film and reuse the same jokes (see the uninspired Austin Powers 2). American Pie was such an influential teen comedy simply because of its freshness (no pun intended). This time around, humiliations are expected, and gross-out jokes are a given. And while many of the jokes are clearly inspired by those in the original, they never are directly copied. Heck, there isn't even any pie sex.

The storyline picks up a year after the original. Everyone is on summer break after their first year in college, and dealing with coming home and realizing things have both changed and stayed the same. Jim (Biggs) is still inept with the girls, lamenting his inability to find even one sexual partner at college. Kevin (Nicholas) laments the passing of his high school days. Oz (Klein) and Heather (Suvari) are still a couple, and Finch (Thomas) is still obsessed with Stifler's (Scott) mom, the M.I.L.F herself (Coolidge). The guys decide to spend summer at the beach and plan to conclude it with a hopefully legendary party.

The first American Pie was a gross-out comedy with heart, one that tried to create real characters and, though it focused on the guys, realistic and equal female characters. The more emotional aspects of the film, including the "serious" sub-plots with Oz and Heather, have been pushed to the background in the sequel; perhaps the filmmakers realized the awkwardness of semi-serious plotting in the middle of a teen sex comedy. That's not to say there isn't any substance this time around, but the more heartfelt material still feels a bit out of place. Luckily, the reduced seriousness has left more screen time for lesbian and masturbation jokes, which is never a bad thing in my book.

Of course, I can't reveal too much about the various jokes and happenings, because nothing ruins a joke faster than having someone describe it for you. I can say, however, that this one made me laugh far more than the original. Screenwriter Adam Herz has not lost his ability to write horribly embarrassing, disturbingly true-to-life punishments for the cast.

Taking center stage again is Biggs as the bumbling Jim, who tries to prepare for the return of famously nude exchange student Nadia (Elizabeth) from the first film by getting sex pointers from the only girl he's ever slept with, band-geek Michelle (Buffy's Hannigan). This is the best sub-plot, adding some depth to Jim's character and turning a one-note, secondary character into a scene stealing love interest. The rest of the cast, too numerous to single out, reprise their roles with great success (both films work so well because they are so well-performed), but I must make mention of Jim's dad, Eugene Levy, who once again just makes the movie. No one else can sell a line like "Don't forget your penis cream" in quite the same way.

No, not all the jokes in American Pie 2 are winners; the longest joke is also the weakest (the lesbian scene, which tries and fails to top the original's Jim/Nadia internet romp), and the "Stifler's mom" segments are annoying and overlong. But as a whole, it still works. Hey, I laughed even on a third viewing, which is always a good sign. Oh, and if you wanted to know what is included in the much-promoted six minutes of "unrated bonus footage," ask elsewhere. Universal infuriatingly only sent the R-rated version for review. Now I'll never know if there was graphic, MPAA-infuriating baked goods humping in the sequel too.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: This is a good-looking transfer, much improved from the overly dark look of American Pie on DVD. Colors look rich and saturated, appropriately sunny for a summer teen movie. Fine detail is excellent, with shots retaining a crisp look without the intrusion of edge enhancement. Black level and shadow detail are fine. Film grain is kept to a minimum. I did notice some slight artifacting in a few scenes (especially on complex patterns like plaid shirts), but it's really not very visible.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchno
DTSEnglishno


Audio Transfer Review: Comedies don't usually feature much in the way of a dynamic soundtrack, and American Pie 2 isn't the kind of film that demands a DTS track, but Universal has included one anyway, along with the usual 5.1 mix. Neither track features much in the way of surround action or sound effects, though the surrounds do fill out the pop soundtrack nicely. Dialogue is anchored in the center channel and clear throughout.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 30 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
7 Deleted Scenes
Production Notes
1 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
4 Feature/Episode commentaries by director J.B. Rogers; writer Adam Herz; actors Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Mena Suvari; actor Eddie Kay Thomas
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 01h:01m:01s

Extra Extras:
  1. Original casting tapes
  2. 3 Doors Down music video Be Like That
  3. Music highlights
  4. Your Favorite Piece of Pie
  5. American Pie 2 Special Offers
Extras Review: As with other recent Universal releases, American Pie 2 appears to contain quite a few features at first, but upon closer inspection, many are devoid of any real substance. As much as this sequel follows the form of the first film, so does the DVD feel like a retread of the former's disc. There is some worthwhile material that series' fans will enjoy, though, even if a lot of it simply rehashes film footage from both the original and the sequel.

Most substantial are, count them, four commentary tracks. The first features director J.B. Rogers. He alternates between production stories and praising the actors, and also enjoys pointing out specific props and sets. It's a decent track, appropriately lightweight for a comedy. The track with screenwriter Adam Herz is a little more serious, as he spends a lot of talking about how he carefully divided the script into three acts, which proves the rather formulaic follow-up to the already uninspired original film was no accident, just safe Hollywood filmmaking (even if the scripts are pretty funny in the end). By far the best track is the third, with Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, and Thomas Ian Nicholas. This track is very reminiscent of the one on the first American Pie DVD, as the three spend as much time making fun of the film as they do talking about their experiences making it. They do go off on tangents once in a while (one even comments, "We need a filmmaker here to keep us on track."), but the overall result is highly amusing (Mena Suvari is quite funny). Eddie Kay Thomas speaks alone on the fourth track, and provides the most low-key of the four tracks, but it still isn't too bad, just a bit dry. Surprisingly, there is very little overlap between these four tracks, and all are worth a listen for die-hard fans. Everyone else should at least check out the one with Biggs, Suvari, and Nicholas.

The Baking of American Pie 2 is your standard HBO special, with lots of fluffy interviews and film clips. There isn't anything here not covered in the commentaries, but it isn't bad as these things go. More worthwhile are the next two featurettes, Good Times with Cast and Crew and Outtakes. The former runs about five minutes, and features behind-the-scenes clips of the actors goofing around on-set, set to a pop song from the film. This piece gives a good idea of the great time all involved had making the picture. Outtakes runs five minutes as well, and contains more on-set shenanigans from that wacky cast. Ah, the mirth. A few of these are laugh-out-loud funny, but I always enjoy gag reels and line flubs anyway.

Seven deleted scenes are included, in fairly messy widescreen, with running time stamps. Most are simply extraneous, excised plot material, even if some of it is amusing. There is one joke, though, a deleted scene involving Jim and an alleged case of diarrhea, that made me laugh much harder than anything in the film proper.

The final substantial extra is a gallery of casting tapes from the original American Pie (why these weren't included on the so-called "ultimate edition" of said is anyone's guess). There are clips for Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nichols, Eddie Kay Thomas, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Alyson Hannigan, and Shannon Elizabeth.

The majority of the rest of the extras are simply clips from both films, though presented in ways that are new and different! Ok, so it isn't that exciting. Your Favorite Piece of Pie is a top ten countdown of fans' favorite scenes from both films. Classic Quotes offers direct access to 15 of the film's most memorable lines. Finally, Music Highlights gives you direct access to 30 different songs and their featured scenes. Also falling under the music category is the video for the 3 Doors Down mega-hit, Be Like That, which played every hour on the radio this summer, and which I never, ever want to hear again.

On the promotional side, there's the theatrical trailer with a tongue-in-cheek intro from Jason Biggs, the Universal Showcase, featuring the trailer for next year's Matt Damon flick The Bourne Identity, and ads for the soundtrack and Universal theme parks.

Finally, there are some text extras, including ten screens of production notes and some cast and crew bios. Overall, not a bad package, and certainly worthy of an inconsequential gross-out comedy (a sequel, no less). Universal certainly deserves praise for creating mostly useless extras out of thin air.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

American Pie 2 ended up out-grossing the original at the box-office (I inadvertently made a pun there, so please don't hit). While the first works better as a film, the second is an even more outrageous comedy, one that still manages to retain a semblance of plot and some character depth. Fans of the original should enjoy this one, and people who found the "heartwarming" aspects of American Pie a little cloying should like it even more.

 


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