Universal Home Video
Cast: Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Chris Klein
Extras: Commentary Track, Documentary, Outtakes, Music Video and Music Highlights, Theatrical Trailers and more
"American Pie" tells the story of four high-school seniors and their attempts to lose their virginity. Jim (Jason Biggs) has the least amount of experience of the four and has difficulty talking to girls. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas (I couldn’t believe it when it finally dawned on me that he’s the kid from "Rookie of the Year"!)) has a steady girlfriend, Vicki (Tara Reid), but they’ve yet to go all the way. "Oz" (Chris Klein) is the jock who comes on to strong to girls. And Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is the mochachino drinking sophisticate who exhibits adult mannerisms, and yet can’t use the bathroom in a public toilet. This quartet forms a pact that they will have sex by the night of the prom.
Once this pact is made, the foursome try many things to find and seduce the right woman. Oz decides that he must be sensitive towards women. Kevin decides that he must learn to please Vicki. Finch attempts to create a reputation for himself so that the women will chase him. And Jim… well, poor Jim ends up in many awkward situations (many involving his father (Eugene Levy) catching him in bizarre acts) which leave him desperate to find a date for the prom. In the end, the four friends realize that while sex is great, it may not be the most important thing in life.
Of course, it’s not the plot of "American Pie" that made it a success. The plot is simply an excuse for many outrageous situations to occur. The most famous scene in the film is the one in which Jim… experiments with the apple pie. (Notice that the note from Jim’s mom reads, "Apple pie, you’re favorite" instead of "your favorite".) There is also Jim’s striptease. Some of the funniest scenes are the ones in which Jim’s dad attempts to talk to him about sex. For the first half of the film, "American Pie" seems to be determined to outdo itself by piling on one risque scene after another.
As for the shock value of the film, I found it to be rather tame. The scene with the infamous pie is nothing. There is very little nudity in the film, with only Jim’s butt and Nadia’s body being shown. There is a lot of profanity and sex-talk, but it’s nothing compared to films like "Clerks" or "Chasing Amy." Even with the unrated version that is available on DVD, there still isn’t that much "objectionable" material in the film. Actually, the only scenes that made me uncomfortable were the ones in which Jim’s dad would catch him doing odd things. Once again, I felt that the soul of the film was the characters and their relationships and not the raunchiness.
So while the over-the-top moments in the film are funny and entertaining, it’s the characters and their situations that make "American Pie" worth watching. While I was disappointed with the experience of viewing "American Pie" after everything that I’d heard about it, I definitely enjoyed the film.
Universal Home Video has given "American Pie" the deluxe treatment with its Collector’s Edition DVD, which offers some very nice extras. The film is presented in its <$PS,widescreen> format and is <$PS,letterboxed> at 1.85:1. This transfer is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> TVs and the framing of the picture appears to be accurate, as there is no obvious loss of visual information at the top or bottom of the screen. The picture is very clear and free of graininess, but it is a bit dark at times. The picture was shot in a very naturalistic style, so there are no sudden shifts in lighting. Take the scene in Stifler’s living room (Chapter 6) and note how well the pink walls contrast with the rest of the colors in the scene with no bleeding or saturation. (Also, notice the Camp Tamakwa t-shirt that Jim is wearing, which is just like the one seen in "Evil Dead.")
This Collector’s Edition offers a ton of extra features. There is an <$commentary,audio commentary> featuring Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz, Adam Herz, and actors Jason Biggs, Eddie Kaye Thomas, and Seann William Scott. It’s obvious from the beginning that these six guys are having a blast doing this commentary. For the most part, the commentary is informative and entertaining. They do a great job of pointing out all of the continuity problems in the film. It was interesting to learn that medics had to come to the set twice to aid Jason Biggs. We learn some about the genesis of the film, but it would have been nice if the Weitz brothers could have discussed more of the technical aspects that went into creating the film. But, the commentary does offers some very interesting tuxedo trivia.
Speaking of music (and I just was), there is an advertisement for the soundtrack to "American Pie", which is followed by a music video by the band Tonic for their song "You Wanted More". The theatrical trailer for "American Pie" is presented in the aspect ratio of 1.85:1. In the "Universal Showcase", we get bonus trailers for the upcoming theatrical releases "Man on the Moon" and "Snow Falling on Cedars" (Beautiful trailer. No clue what the film’s about.)
The final features on the disc are talent files (which feature most of the cast) and extensive production notes. There are also some additional production notes on the inner sleeve in the DVD case.
Once I got over the fact that "American Pie" is not the incredibly lewd laughfest that I thought it was going to be I decided that I liked the film anyway. The movie presents us with realistic characters who are placed in some outrageous situations, but still manage to learn something by the film’s end. Universal’s confidence in this box-office champ shows in the superior treatment that they have given it with this DVD. Keeping in mind that "American Pie" isn’t for all tastes, I say get this Pie while it’s hot.