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AMERICAN PIE 2
Unrated Widescreen Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Sean William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Eugene Levy
Director:  J. B. Rogers
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio:  Universal
Features:  See Review
Length:  111 Minutes
Release Date:  January 15, 2001

“You are so sweet…he’s special!”

“He’s my bitch.”

Film ***1/2

What does American Pie know that so many other teen sex comedies don’t?  How is it that, with all the run-of-the-mill, by-the-numbers, unintelligent, unimaginative, crude and below-the-belt pictures that come off of the teen comedy assembly line, American Pie manages to get it right, not once…but twice?

That’s something worth looking into in greater detail.  For my part, all I know is that the first film was charming, funny, filled with terrific characters, and managed to push the envelope of taste and decency while seeming fresh and original, and even maintaining a sense of warmth and sweetness in the margins.  And American Pie 2 does, too.  But even more so.

I laughed at the first film; I howled at this one.  I marveled that characters I grew to know and like in the first film were just as likable the second time around…in fact, seeing Jim, Oz, Stifler, Finch, Michelle, Heather, Kevin, Jessica, Nadia, Vicky…even Jim’s dad…was like running into old friends you hadn’t seen in a couple of years.

When we last left the group, they had completed high school and college was looming on the horizon.  We catch up with them here with their first year of college behind them and the summer stretched out before them.  Jim (Biggs) is both excited and apprehensive about seeing Nadia (Elizabeth) again (re-watch the first film if you can’t remember why).  He managed to lose his virginity to our favorite band camp girl Michelle (Hannigan) in the first movie, but hasn’t had much experience since then…in fact, his shot at conquest number two is…ah, rudely interrupted as the sequel opens.  Nervous about his ability to perform, he seeks out Michelle once again for some pointers in a number of hysterical scenes.  One involves a trumpet…I will say no more.

Oz (Klein) and Heather (Suvari) are still in love, but Heather is off to Europe for the first eight weeks of the summer.  Will their love survive being apart?  Maybe, even though the still gleefully obnoxious Stifler (Scott) is determined to get his old buddy back the way he used to be.

Kevin (Nicholas) and Vicky (Reid) meet up again, and things are awkward.  Can old lovers become friends?  It’s an age old question, and this pair is about to find out.

Jessica (Lyonne) is still the master of calling them as she sees them.  Finch (Thomas) still pines for Stifler’s mom.  And Jim’s dad (Levy) is still always ready with a bit of awkwardly timed advice, but sweet love and support for his son.  And boy, is Jim gonna need it in this movie…there’s just something comforting about a father’s ability to say, “I’m proud of you, son,” after the most humiliating experience of a kid’s life that’s can’t be duplicated.

The characters are still great…the film is just funnier than before.  Certain classic scenes, such as Stifler’s beer in the first one, are not duplicated, but kind of topped.  In this case, it involves some champagne (“I can taste the bubbles!…No, I can’t, actually…”).  Jim’s infamous pie scene is also bested here, when he grabs for what he thinks is lubricant, but it turns out to be…you know, I think I’ll leave that one for you to discover.  And best and most daring of all is a sequence involving a pair of attractive possible lesbians that leaves three of our guys doing things you would have never dreamed them doing.  The things we do for love, indeed.

There is still room for these kids’ maturing process, which is given attention in between the sometimes shocking but always hilarious humor.  There’s even a very real sense of knowing their lives won’t be this way forever…but damn it all, they’re going to enjoy it while it lasts.

I loved this movie from start to finish…I was laughing out loud most of the way, and when I wasn’t, I was smiling knowingly at what these guys and girls were putting themselves through.  Those first years of discovery are heaven and hell mixed together.  This film shows that they are filled with some of the most awkward, embarrassing, and painful moments of our lives.

And what wouldn’t we give to go back and do it all again?

NOTE: The unrated version of the film contains an additional seven minutes of footage not seen during its theatrical run.

Video ***1/2

This is an impressive anamorphic offering from Universal (full frame discs for both theatrical and unrated versions are also available).  Overall, the image quality is much improved over the original film, with better coloring, stronger levels of detail, and no noticeable grain or image break-up to mar the presentation.  Both darker and lighter scenes render equally well, with only occasional touches of softness brought on by harsher lighting schemes…nothing distracting.  A very good effort.

Audio ***1/2

The 5.1 soundtrack (choice of Dolby Digital or DTS) is a good mix, with most of the dynamic range and bottom end coming from the almost non-stop terrific accompaniment of songs.  Dialogue levels are always good, clean and clear, and rear stage usage is subtle and infrequent, but give the audio a bit of extra ambience during bigger scenes.

Features ****

This is one of the best overall features packages I’ve ever seen!  For starters, there’s not one, but FOUR commentary tracks to choose from!  Listen to director J. B. Rogers on the first track, writer Adam Herz on the second track, cast members Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari and Thomas Ian Nicholas on the third, and cast member Eddie Kaye Thomas on the fourth!  All are good, informative and entertaining listens…for my money, though, I enjoyed the group one on track three the best.

There is a 25 minute featurette…not quite as good as the commentary tracks, but features interviews with most of the main cast and crew members.  There is a 5 minute collection of behind the scenes footage, an absolutely hysterical gag reel, 7 deleted scenes, a music video by 3 Doors Down, and a look at tapes from the original American Pie casting sessions…very cool!

But that isn’t all…there is a collection of the top ten favorite scenes from both the first and second film (as voted on by fans on the internet, and I’m happy to say, DMC took part in the polling process!) introduced by Sean William Scott, a theatrical trailer with a ‘warning’ introduction by Jason Biggs, a collection of both movie quotes direct from the film and music highlights, some production notes, talent files, and extras for your DVD ROM.  This is a jam-packed and fun 10 hours of extras!

Summary:

Universal strikes early and strikes big with American Pie 2, which will be the DVD release to beat in the young new year.  A great cast reunites for an even funnier film than before, on a quality disc that is loaded to the gills with fun and fabulous extras.  The unrated version is definitely not for those with delicate constitutions…if that isn’t you, consider this one highly recommended.