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Blu-ray Review: American Pie

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American Pie, the 1999 comedy that launched an enduring franchise, is now available on Blu-ray for the first time. The ensemble cast was made up of what were then largely unknown and little-known actors. Chris Klein, Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Seann William Scott filled out the cast of high schoolers preparing for graduation. The individual actors’ level of success post-Pie varied, with Seann William Scott becoming the breakout star. Thirteen years later, as the original cast reunites for 2012’s American Reunion, the film remains funny and grounded in enough reality to keep it relatable.

The story of American Pie is simple. Biggs plays Jim, the focal character of the story. Jim and his friends Oz (Klein), Kevin (Nicholas), and Finch (Thomas) make a pact to lose their virginity by the end of the school year. None of them wants to go to college a virgin. Kevin already has a girlfriend, Vicky (Reid). His problem is that Vicky hasn’t let him past third base. The other three don’t have girlfriends and desperately try to figure out how to meet girls. Oz fancies himself a ladies man, but never knows the right thing to say to make a girl give him a shot. Finch thinks of himself as an intellectual, and can never catch a girl’s interest. Jim is more of an average guy – his main problem is just feeling awkward around girls. In the meantime, the cocky jock Stifler (Scott) ridicules them into thinking they’re a bunch of losers, destined to remain alone.

While Kevin tries to convince Vicky to have sex with him, Oz and Jim try to woo a couple girls who seem interested in them. Jim is seduced by the sexy exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), while Oz finds himself attracted to shy choir girl Heather (Suvari). All of them awkwardly try to figure out how they will complete their pact by prom. What works best about American Pie are the funny moments from high school that most of us can relate to on some level. Jim’s awkward conversations with his dad (Eugene Levy) about sex are particular highlights of the movie. Both Biggs and Levy play the scenes with just enough seriousness, making it all the more cringe-inducingly hilarious. It’s not over the top, it just feels real. Even situations that might be a little exaggerated ring true because the performances are so earnest.

American Pie is also known as the film that popularized the term “M.I.L.F.” That acronym has become so ingrained in the general lexicon, no one could be blamed for forgetting where they first heard it. Jennifer Coolidge made a brief but memorable appearance as the character who inspired the term, Stifler’s mom. As the title suggests, the film also contains an infamous apple pie scene. For those who still haven’t seen it, it’s best watched rather than explained. Those scenes are hilarious, but American Pie is filled with many warm character moments between adolescents on the brink of adulthood.

American Pie on Blu-ray certainly looks better than it did on DVD, but not by as much as I hoped. The 1080p transfer, framed at 1.85:1, has good overall contrast – better than the overly dark DVD. Sharpness is okay but not as strong as it could be. Detail is lacking in most wide shots. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is also just okay. There is not much activity except for in the front channels. Dialogue is always easy to understand, but there isn’t much else noteworthy about the audio. The many ‘90s alt-rock songs that are featured throughout the film lack punch. All things considered, American Pie looks and sounds fine but more care could’ve been taken to make it really shine.

Of the special features, the best by far is “American Pie Revealed,” a whopping three-hour-plus documentary that covers all aspects of the original film and its first two sequels. On the other end of the quality spectrum, the four minute “American Reunion: A Look Inside” that is basically an extended trailer intended to promote the new movie and nothing more. Carried over from the special edition DVD are deleted scenes, a commentary track with several participants, and numerous short featurettes. One of the most interesting features is a comprehensive slideshow of the evolution of the film’s poster and tagline. All of the features are in standard definition, save for the American Reunion promo. Both the R-rated and unrated versions of the film are included.

Somewhat rare in comedy, American Pie provides consistent laughs throughout the entire film. I think the simplicity of the plot allows for the movie to focus on the characters and the jokes rather than getting caught up in a complex plot. American Pie holds up as one of the funniest movies of the ‘90s.

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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.