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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2012

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American Pie Trilogy (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Tyler Stripko

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Synopsis

"American Pie" chronicles the senior year of friends Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) as they all attempt to lose their virginity before high school graduation.  Despite their best efforts, the "holy grail" seems to permanently remain out of reach for the boys.  "American Pie 2" picks up after the boys' freshman year of college when Kevin decides that they should all rent a Great Lakes shore house for a summer of wild partying and serious action on the female front.  In order to help pay the rent, they invite their pseudo-friend Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott) along to share in the antics.  "American Wedding" chronicles Jim's engagement to his band-camp love Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and the rather disastrous chain of events that lead up to the wedding day.

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
    • 1999, 2001, and 2003, Color, Not Rated, 96 Mins, 111 Mins, and 104 Mins
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1, 1.85:1, and 2.35:1
  • Codec: AVC
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Eddie Kay Thomas, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Eugene Levy, Alyson Hannigan, Seann Willam Scott
  • Directed by Paul Weitz, J.B. Rogers, and Jesse Dylan
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: None
  • Sex: Nudity
  • Language: Plenty

Commentary

"American Pie" hit the theaters my junior year of college and was a big hit with kids at the time.  I remember seeing it with a bunch of my fraternity brothers and we certainly got a good chuckle out of the film.   We were the perfect audience for the crude sexual situations, humor, and disgusting acts that take place throughout the movie.  It was also easy to identify with the characters as pretty much everyone knew someone like Jim, Finch, Oz, Kevin, or Stifler.  This was also the film that awakened the "raunchy comedy" that had been pretty much absent since "Animal House" and "Revenge of the Nerds."  Sadly, I don't think the film resonates as well today as it did when I was in college (and no, I really haven't grown up at all since then).  The story is not as strong and the character development could definitely have been better.  Kevin is just plain annoying and possibly the worst-acted character in the film (though Tara Reid runs a close second).  Oz is a bit shallow.  Only Jim and Finch carry any real weight along with Jim's dad, played perfectly by Eugene Levy.  Still, the movie is enjoyable for what it is, and offers some legitimate thought into the minds of sexually deprived teenage boys.   I'll give this a 3.5 for overall entertainment.

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"American Pie 2" was an effort to cash in on the success of the first film, and feels like it was rushed to the theaters a bit too quickly.  The plot is almost too simple and there is practically no character development throughout the film.  We are again treated to too much "Kevin-time" and they could have completely cut Oz out of the film without sacrificing much.  There are some great scenes between Jim and his dad and Alyson Hannigan reprises her role as the flute-toting band geek Michelle with great effectiveness.  Finch doesn't get as much screen time in this film and that is a shame.  Stifler's character plays a far bigger part in this movie, mostly to the benefit of the viewer.  Personally, I felt that this was the weakest of the three films, so I'll give this a 2.5.

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"American Wedding" picks up the story after college graduation, with Jim asking Michelle to marry him.  I found there to be a bit more "heart" to this film, with an attempt to turn the now central character of Stifler into an actual decent human being.  It somewhat works, though I still prefer the original to this one.  They had to ratchet up the gross factor a bit to keep things interesting, which starts to push the boundaries of reality.  The obligatory bachelor party scene takes a unique twist and I laughed pretty hard at the "dance off" at the gay club.  I'll put this down as a 3.0 for overall entertainment.

Technical

I was very disappointed in the video quality of all three films.  It looks like these were taken from an older master and barely looked better than the DVD versions that I own.  While there is a bit more detail as compared to the DVDs, the picture in all three films has a very dull look to it.  Contrast was weak and the image lacked depth.  There is a yellow tint to many scenes, while greens (particularly grass and other outdoor foliage) had that "nuclear" glow to them indicative of oversaturation.  There are obvious signs of digital noise reduction and edge enhancement throughout, though I thought "American Pie 2" looked slightly better than the other two films.  For picture quality, I'll give "American Pie" a 2.5, "American Pie 2" a 3.0, and "American Wedding" a 2.5.  I would really like to see a proper re-mastering done on these films prior to their next Blu-ray release.

On the audio front, all three films sport a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, but as with the video there is not much of a difference from the DVDs.  The first film soundtrack lacked punch – even the music was weak.  Bass and surround usage were minimal as well.  The second film sounded even worse to me.  There were dialogue intelligibility issues at times and some of the music sounded like it was recorded inside of a paper bag.  The third film sounded a bit better to me and actually had some effective use of the surround channels for ambient effects.  I'll rate the first film a 2.5, the second a 2.0 and the third a 3.0.

Extras

This is the one area where I can't complain about these discs too much.  There is a bevy of special features included on these discs, including deleted scenes, outtakes, casting tapes, numerous audio commentaries, making-of featurettes, cast interviews, and other goodies.  I'll give 3.5's across the board here.