AMERICAN PIE: UNRATED ULTIMATE EDITION
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Jason Briggs, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas
Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Eugene Levy
Director: Paul Weitz
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1, Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 96 Minutes
Release Date: July 31, 2001
"It's always about sex, isn't it!"
"It's NOT always about sex!...I just thought THIS time it was about sex."
Every teen comedy that comes out today owes something to the ones
that came out in the 80s. Films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High or Porkys have paved the way for todays
movies like Cant Hardly Wait, and now, American Pie. And
Pie pays a very nice homage
the band at the
prom actually plays Dont You Forget About Me from The Breakfast Club.
Theres something comforting about knowing that 15 years later, kids are
still seducing each other to that tune.
American Pie is an
unapologetic raunch comedy in the same vein as the aforementioned Porkys. Its
about a group of kids whose only problem is that of sex.
Nothing here about the part time jobs, the big English tests, the SATs, or
anything of that ilk. Loss of virginity is
the only issue at hand here. As such, the
movie doesnt really cover any new ground, so there are really only two questions to
ask: is it funny, and is the cast of kids
appealing? The answer to both is yes.
During the last stretch of their senior year, four friends make a
pact to experience the opposite sex by the end of prom night. Otherwise, they face the rather unpleasant
prospect of having to go to college as virgins. What
predictably follows is the way the film goes about breaking every taboo in terms of
content, language, and good taste.
Whats not so predictable, though, is the consistently sweet
nature of the picture in between the gross-out gags.
This film doesnt employ the misogynistic spirit of Porkys, where women are merely objects of
desire and dont get the benefit of having their real feelings shown on the screen. One example is the young man who hesitates to say
I love you to his girlfriend
not because hes a typically inept male
who cant say the L-word, but because hes not sure he wouldnt just be
saying it in order to have sex with her
and he doesnt want to do that.
Another pleasant surprise is the inevitable prom night party
sequence, which of course, is driven by the burning question about who will lose their
virginity and who wont. Here, the
comedy is peppered nicely with some sweetness and legitimate romance. Its not a night where the conquering hero
strips off his shirt and beats his chest in victory afterward. The member of the group whos the most envied
the next day is the one whos actually fallen in love.
If these aspects sound corny, they dont come across that way,
largely because of the winning spirit of each and every cast member. They all strive to achieve a sense of reality in
their characters, rather than just being teen comedy stereotypes, which would have been
very easy to fall into. In fact, theyre
almost laid out like that. The nice guy who
has bad luck with girls, the jock, the intellect, the guy with the girlfriend who
wont go that next step, the experienced girl, the innocent choir singer, and so on. What each performer brings to the table is exactly
the right ingredient to transcend the shallowness. Eugene
Levy is especially good as the father who has to give the sex talk to his son. He mixes nerdiness with hipness, and his are some
of the films funniest scenes.
But dont get the idea that the movie is any less gross than
advertised. For starters, the movies
title has nothing to do with the Don McLean song (Ill leave it at that). Theres a laxative joke
nothing new, but
a bit funnier here than ones Ive remembered, And,
a la Austin Powers, theres a bodily
substance in a beverage, but with a much better payoff.
Incidentally, in case youre wondering why this version and the
R rated version show the same running time, the only difference between them is the
addition of a few extra frames of an internet show, and, of course, the pie scene. Both together only add up to ten, maybe twenty
seconds of additional footage.
Universal has delivered a mostly quality anamorphic transfer here. The picture is sharp and clear throughout, with no evidence of grain or compression, and the print is equally clean. Colors are well contained and defined. Flesh tones are natural all the way. The only complaint I have, and its a miniscule one, is that the coloring seemed just a click less bright than they should throughout. I may be wrong about that, but even if Im not, its nothing to be concerned about.
The 5.1 soundtrack is serviceable, but given the nature of the film,
is mostly unremarkable except when the songs play. The dialogue is all clean and
well rendered throughout, and the surrounds don't get much use, but the music sounds
This DVD is a Universal Ultimate Edition disc, and it
doesnt disappoint. You get a commentary
with the filmmakers and some cast members, a trailer, production notes, cast and crew
bios, a spotlight on location documentary, a soundtrack presentation, extras for your DVD
ROM, and some outtakes. In addition,
there's a sneak peek at American Pie 2 plus a trailer, outtakes, poster
concepts, a photo montage, and a music video and a live performance by
Tonic. As an extra touch,
there are a couple of extra menus that allow you to go right to your favorite song or
quote from the movie, in addition to the traditional chapter search.
This is a film that doesnt explore any uncharted territory, but
is a quite funny and appealing movie nonetheless. The
fact that it rarely delves into the typically mean spirit of some teen comedies, and
maintains a certain sweetness throughout despite the subject matter, make it a standout
amongst other entries in the genre. If you
like your humor gross, raunchy, and sexy, then buy, buy this American Pie.