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Blu-ray Review: American Pie 2

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American Pie 2, the 2001 follow up to the popular comedy American Pie (1999), is now available on Blu-ray. The film reunites the cast from the original movie, though there are a few notably underused actors. This movie revolves around the guys. Tara Reid’s role as Vicky is greatly reduced from the first film, as is Mena Suvari’s Heather who makes hardly more than a cameo. Both Natasha Lyonne and Shannon Elizabeth return in small supporting roles. Alyson Hannigan, as Michelle, is the only female to receive an expanded role from the previous movie. American Pie 2 picks up a year after the first one. Jim, Kevin, Finch, Oz, and Stifler are returning home for the summer from their first year of college. Their goal this time around is to have the ultimate summer blow-out before once again going their separate ways. That’s a less memorable and well-defined plan than the first movie, which found the boys determined to lose their virginity. While American Pie 2 does contain a lot of laughs, it doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor.

The college experience hasn’t exactly turned out the way all the guys expected. Jim (Jason Biggs) is just as sexually frustrated as ever. He seems to be turning things around on the last day of the school year before leaving his dorm, but he is caught in the act by his parents. It’s the first of many attempts to outdo Jim’s embarrassing situations from the first movie. Luckily in this case the scene is pretty funny. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is still hung up on his now ex-girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) remains obsessed with Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge). Only Oz (Chris Klein) is still in a happy relationship with his girlfriend Heather (Mena Suvari), but she’s in a study abroad program for the summer. Kevin decides the cure for their summertime blues is to rent a fancy beach house and plan a big party and invite hot girls. The only way they can swing the expense is to invite Stifler (Seann William Scott) along so he can contribute to the rent.

It’s a bit of a stretch. In the first movie only Oz is really friends with Stifler. The other guys hang around with him only because of their mutual friend, with Stifler barely tolerating them. It’s strange he would decide to spend an entire summer with them, especially considering his hatred for Finch. But their animosity toward each other does set up some funny situations between him and the other guys. In the midst of their party planning Jim learns his old crush Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) plans to visit him at the end of summer. Not wanting to repeat Nadia’s disappointment from the previous year, Jim decides he needs some lessons in love. More specifically, he needs lessons in lovemaking. He enlists the help of Michelle, the only girl he has actually had sex with.

There are several funny set pieces in this movie. The interaction with two chicks that live in the house the boys are painting, as well as an unfortunate encounter between Jim and a tube of Super Glue, stand out in particular. What’s missing from the movie is some of the charm. Part of that is because lightning doesn’t usually strike twice. This film was less surprising because it doesn’t even attempt to expand on the first one. It also isn’t as easily relateable. The situations they all faced in high school were realistic. Renting a beach house for the summer is a merely plot device. Some of the best scenes are again between Jim and his dad (Eugene Levy), whose role has been reduced due to the boys leaving town.

Overall the movie is still pretty funny. It suffers from some things being a little too over-the-top in their quest for laughs, but most of it works pretty well. One of the biggest weaknesses is Kevin. The character never does anything funny. His pining after Vicky is just annoying and goes nowhere. As a straight man, he never really has anything clever to say in reaction to the shenanigans of his friends. He pretty much just goes along with everything. It’s clear this film is less focused on relationships than the first movie. Oz and Heather offer very little of interest (though their constantly foiled attempts at phone sex are cute). The Jim/Nadia/Michelle situation is pretty predictable, though the chemistry between Biggs and Hannigan is sweet and natural.

American Pie 2 looks considerably better on Blu-ray than the first film did. The 1080p transfer is nothing out of the ordinary, just a solid presentation of a modestly budgeted comedy. Detail is strong, with a sharp image throughout. Skin tones are more natural than they were in the first film. Colors are vivid and black levels are solid. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is much like the first film. There are no problems with it, other than an overall thin sound, and it serves its purpose well. Dialogue is clear and easy to understand, even during rowdy party scenes. The sound is very focused in the front speakers, but there are some well-placed effects in the rear speakers. Music is lacking in bass – this is not a mix to demonstrate the power of your subwoofer.

The special features have been carried over from previous special edition DVD. Including four audio commentaries, each with a variety of participants, seems like overkill for all but the biggest Pie fans. There are a few short featurettes as well as deleted scenes and outtakes. The four minute “American Reunion: A Look Inside is the exact same promo piece found on the first American Pie Blu-ray. Both the R-rated and unrated versions of the movie are included.

The goal of American Pie 2 was apparently to try and up the ante from the previous outing. While I wouldn’t say it ever outdoes anything in the original, it is still an entertaining and funny movie.

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About Sherry Lipp

Sherry Lipp is an entertainment and food writer who specializes in film and television reviews. She has published the gluten and grain-free cookbook Don't Skip Dessert.