Jim, Stifler, Finch, Oz, Kevin. If you know that group of names then you're probably a fan of the American Pie films, and you'll be glad to hear that American Pie: Reunion sees the original cast back, as well pretty much all the secondary characters as well. With a gap of almost a decade since the previous film (excluding the direct-to-DVD releases which had none of the principal cast except Eugine Levy as Jim's dad), the question remained. Would filmgoers want to return to East Great Falls High for a reunion?
East Great Falls High is having a thirteen year reunion and that sees everyone coming back together for the party. But times have changes, Jim and Michelle are married with a child and their sex lives are on the decline, Stifler is apparently doing well in a large corporation, Finch has been travelling the world and experiencing all it has to offer, Oz hosts a sports show and has the perfect wife and house while Kevin is living the perfect married couple dream. But having them all get back together brings out some truths, and trouble...
Despite my love for this film, there are certainly some aspects which could have been better. Jim's premature ejaculation scene from the first film has been plastered on Youtube - we're pretty sure "Red Tube" may be more appropriate. The film also lacked some "crudeness" which is surprising given the writers and directors created the very inappropriate and crude Harold and Kumar franchise, and that there were more shocks in the first two films - sure you do see a male body part and boobs in one scene in particular - but there's nothing like the aforementioned "ejaculation" scene or the lesbians from the second film. Also disappointing is the fact that while all the main actors have pretty decent parts other secondary characters such as Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), Jessica (Natasha Lyonne), Sherman (Chris Owen) are barely given a minute of screen time each - if that. Given that Natasha Lyonne is featured on the films poster and Blu-Ray/DVD cover, it's disappointing.
Just like the characters in American Pie: Reunion, it doesn't take long to reignite your love for these characters. While this film may lack some of the extreme situations of previous films, it's nice to see what the characters are up to a decade on, be it for better or worse. If you're a fan of this franchise then this latest outing is well worth watching, newcomers may want to start with the originals though.
Of particular note is the scene at 40:40 when Jim and Kara are in the car together and the black levels, are all over the place, and in particular when Kara is reaching into the back (and yes, you get an extremely risqué shot of her rear end) to get the drink at 40:58 to 41:03. Looking at the video bitrate in this sequence it often hovers around the 17Mbps mark which may offer some insight into the issue, but it's more likely a source material issue (we just don't recall it like this in cinemas). There are other moments throughout the film too. Don't get me wrong, the Blu-Ray far exceeds DVD quality, and should be the format of choice.
Universal have delivered this film on Blu-Ray with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (24-bit/48Khz) track which is indeed a major step up from the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio on the DVD release. Naturally being a comedy the focus on this audio is dialogue which is crystal clear at all times while the surround sound channels get a bit of a workout and the sub-woofer will kick in at times, primarily with the music. Unfortunately this isn't an overly exciting sound mix and at times the audio feels a little flat and just needed that additional kick. Still, the audio on this disc is certainly superior to the lossy DVD release.
Other audio tracks on the disc include Spanish and French DTS 5.1 tracks encoded at 768kbps. The Theatrical version of the film also has a DVS track (Descriptive Video Service) which is encoded in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps. Subtitles are provided in English SDH, Spanish and French. The English subtitles are placed on the screen near the actor talking which makes it easier to follow conversations, while the text is accurate to the dialogue.
Deleted Scenes (7:51/HD): Here we have seven deleted scenes including "Jim Comes Home Drunk", "Heather and Mia", "Oz Asks Heather Out", "Stifler Preps for Party", "Finch and Jess", "Vicky's New Guy" and "Finch and Selena in Bathroom Stall". There's some pretty good stuff here, but also a few lameish ones and it's clear to see why they got the chop. Still they are worth checking out.
Deleted Scenes (26:25/HD): Next up are 13 extended scenes from the film. Some of the extensions are pretty minor, but there are a few decent ones which could have been included in the film - or at least the unrated one.
Gag Reel (3:42/HD): Of course there had to be a gag reel, and being a comedy film full there are some pretty funny moments.
The "Out of Control" Track (HD): This is a Picture-in- Picture commentary track where the actors in the film pop up at various points with different bits of information about characters and scenes, or just mucking around. It's a little sparce and lacking in details, but OK to put on for another casual movie viewing.
The "Reunion" Reunion: Re-Launching the Series (10:32/HD): This is the "Making of" featurette for the film. It's certainly promotional and shows key plot points from the film, but with many of the main cast and crew interviewed, and some behind the scenes footage, it's worth a look.
The Best of Biggs: Hanging with Jason B. (3:37/HD): A fluff piece with everyone sprouting their love for Jason Biggs.
Lake Bake (4:31/HD): This featurette looks at filming on the lake in the searing heat.
Dancing With The Oz (2:50/HD): Chris Klein's character Oz has a dance sequence in the film, and this featurette looks at preparing for that sequence.
American Gonad-iators: The Fight Scene (4:13/HD): This section focuses on the fight sequence at the Stifler Party.
Ouch! My Balls! (1:47/HD): Yes, the actors, and not just the guys, spent a lot of time punching each other in the balls.
American Reunion Yearbook (HD): This interactive Yearbook is pretty cool and includes trivia, photos and video clips (from all the movies in the series) for each of the main characters. It's not only the class of 1999, but also other characters including Jim's Dad and Stifler's Mum.
Feature Commentary with Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg: This Audio Commentary with the writers and directors of the film have a tonne of information about the films production, and storyline elements. It's a great listen and one of the better audio commentaries we've heard in a while.
Review By: Dave Warner