American Pie 2 appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though it looked a little rough at the start, Pie 2 cleaned up its act after a while and offered a generally solid visual experience.
Sharpness usually came across as clearly defined and distinct. Some wide shots appeared a bit soft and fuzzy at times, particularly during the first half of the film. However, these remained rare, as most of the flick seemed accurate and detailed. Jagged edges and moiré effects caused no concerns, and only a smidgen of edge enhancement was visible. Print flaws weren’t a big issue, but I did see some light grain and a little grit at times. Again, these caused issues mainly during the first portion of the movie; it became cleaner as it progressed.
Colors were a strength in the original Pie, and they continue to look good during the sequel. The hues consistently seemed warm and rich, and they created a nicely naturalistic presence. No problems with noise, bleeding or other issues occurred.
The biggest weakness of the first Pie stemmed from the darkness of its image. That flick was nearly impenetrable at times. This didn’t seem to be a problem attached to the DVD, as it just appeared to have been filmed that way. Pie 2 also showed some excessive opacity at times, but not as strongly as in the original. The early shots looked a bit dense and murky, but they cleared up pretty well as the movie progressed. Black levels also seemed nicely dark and deep. Overall, American Pie 2 wasn’t a top-notch transfer, but it appeared reasonably good.
Also decent but unexciting were the soundtracks of American Pie 2. As with many Universal DVDs, it included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 mixes. If any significant differences existed between the two, I couldn’t discern them. To these ears, both the DTS and Dolby tracks sounded virtually identical.
The soundfields seemed typical of this kind of comedy. Most of the audio remained pretty heavily anchored to the front channels. Music showed very solid stereo imaging and delineation, and various ambient effects also spread nicely across the front, but nothing terribly exciting occurred along the way. The elements blended together reasonably well and created an acceptable presence. Surround usage remained quite subdued. They offered good support of the music, but effects stayed minor. The rears kicked to life modestly due to crowd noise at a band camp performance, and the beach scenes also added more active atmosphere, but these were nothing special.
Audio quality appeared fine for the most part. Speech sounded natural and distinct, and I heard no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Some poorly integrated looping occurred, but the quality of the lines seemed good. Effects were a minor aspect of the mix, but they sounded acceptably accurate and distinct, with no signs of distortion or any problems. Music also was clear and crisp, but I felt the many rock tunes lacked much low-end. Bass response was marginally adequate, and the track didn’t give us the normal levels of warmth and depth. Overall, the soundtracks of American Pie 2 got the job done, but they seemed fairly lackluster.
Some DVDs provide questionable claims on their packaging in regard to the amount of extras they include. For example, Shrek wanted us to believe that it included more than 11 hours of material. That might be true if we include watching the movie four times.
American Pie 2 states that it provides “over 10 hours of entertainment!” You’ll have to decide for yourself if the extras are actually entertaining, but I won’t quibble with the time component, mainly because this sucker packs an amazing four audio commentaries! This makes Pie 2 a member of a very elite club, as only a handful of DVDs have included that many audio commentaries. Fight Club and Se7en gave us that many, and there might be others as well, but those are the only examples I can recall.
(Spooky insight: both Fight Club and Se7en were directed by David Fincher, whereas Pie 2 includes a character named Finch! Coincidence? Uh, yeah, but it’s still kinda cool!)
The first commentary comes from director J.B. Rogers who offers a running, screen-specific affair. Unfortunately, much of Rogers’ material tends toward simple narration of on-screen events, onto which he often adds statements about how great everyone was and how much fun everything was. At times, Rogers provides some interesting and informative remarks about the making of the film, but these are greatly outweighed by tedious discussions of obvious material. It’s a pretty dull commentary.
Next we hear from writer Adam Herz in his own running, screen-specific commentary. On the negative side, Herz lets a few too many pauses take place; these are never very long, and they’re not terrible frequent, but they do take place. Otherwise, this is a pretty compelling commentary. Herz aptly discusses the challenges of writing a sequel and gives us an overview of what he wanted to accomplish. He also adds some nice remarks about the whole screenwriting process and the structuring of a script. He avoids much of the standard happy talk that we hear in Rogers’ track, and Herz offers a consistently breezy and interesting piece.
The other two commentaries come from actors. First up is a track from Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, and Thomas Ian Nicholas. All three were recorded together for this running, screen-specific piece. On paper, this sounds like a fun prospect, but in reality, it’s often painful, largely due to Suvari. She may be the winner of the 2001 edition of the Melanie Griffith Dopiest Commentary Participant award, as she seems to be in her own world throughout the track. And it’s an obnoxious world where she spouts inanities on a consistent basis.
The guys fare a little better, but the commentary remains weak. Nicholas has little to say other than to offer a recurring joke about how they gave all Kevin’s lines to Jim. Biggs offers the most information, which makes sense since he’s the only performer of the three who actually has a substantial role in the movie. Unfortunately, his occasional tidbits aren’t enough to save this painfully annoying track.
The fourth and final commentary offers actor Eddie Kaye Thomas, who works alone for his running, screen-specific track. After the misery I endured with the prior commentary, this one felt like gold, but in reality, it’s a pretty mediocre piece. However, I don’t blame Thomas for that fact. Since he’s left alone, he has to carry the whole load. That’s fine for a director or screenwriter who are involved with a whole production, and a lead actor who’s in most parts of a movie would be good as well.
However, since Thomas only shows up occasionally, we see lots of scenes in which he didn’t participate. That means we find quite a few empty spaces, as Thomas often doesn’t have much to say. Otherwise, he offers some decent remarks at times, including an amusing story about an incident that inspired the disdain of Eugene Levy. Overall, this commentary is decent but nothing special.
After all those commentaries, we move to a slew of video extras. The Baking of American Pie 2 offers a very standard promotional featurette. The 24-minute piece includes some candid footage from the set, film clips, and interviews with director J.B. Rogers, screenwriter Adam Herz, producer Chris Moore, and actors Jason Biggs, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eugene Levy, Chris Klein, Tara Reid, Natasha Lyonne, Mena Suvari, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, and Eddie Kaye Thomas.
Despite the length of that roster, don’t expect to hear anything terribly revealing from “Baking”. This may be the longest trailer ever created, as the vast majority of the show simply tells us about the story and the characters. Though some decent behind the scenes appear - including some fun shots of Levy as he improvises - the program provides way too many snippets from the film. Overall, “Baking” is extremely promotional and pretty dull.
Good Times With Cast and Crew essentially acts as a combination of behind the scenes material and outtakes. Basically, the five-minute and 17-second piece shows various wacky moments from the set, some of which already appear in “Baking”. It’s mildly interesting but not anything terribly special.
Next we find the true Outtakes reel, which really does look a lot like “Good Times”. Some of the same footage shows up here; it differs only because the “Good Times” material is videotaped, whereas the “Outtakes” are filmed. It provides the usual flubs and nuttiness, so if you like that kind of thing, this five-minute and 25-second program should entertain you. I think it would have made more sense to simply combine “Good Times” and “Outtakes” into one piece; they’re both pretty similar.
More interesting are the Original Casting Tapes From American Pie. These offer exactly what they describe: snippets of the auditions for six of the actors. We see clips for Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Eddie Kaye Thomas. The pieces run between 54 seconds and 101 seconds for a total of seven minutes and 29 seconds of footage. This stuff’s fun to see, especially since Thomas’ audition stuck him with the diarrhea scene from the first film. It seems odd that these clips didn’t show up on any of the two prior releases of Pie. Geez, the last one was touted as the “Ultimate Edition”, but obviously that wasn’t correct. In any case, I’m happy to see these pieces here.
Also compelling are the Deleted Scenes. We find seven of these. They last between 42 seconds and two minutes and 50 seconds for a total of 10 minutes and 27 seconds of footage. For the most part, these clips help expand the characters, and there’s actually some good stuff here; a few of the scenes really should have made the final cut, as they would have added depth to the flick.
At the end of “Baking”, we see part of a music video for 3 Doors Down’s “Be Like That”. Elsewhere on the DVD, we get the entire thing. The clip uses the standard combination of lip-synched performance and movie snippets, and it runs three minutes and 55 seconds. It’s a pretty blah song and video, but it’s not terrible.
The next three features all offer different ways to watch parts of the movie. Your Favorite Piece of Pie provides 10 scenes that fans picked as the best of the two films. Hosted by a bearded Seann William Scott, we get five each for the two flicks. It’s not anything terribly compelling, but I guess it’s sort of fun, especially since we find footage from the first film.
The other two options repeat features found on the original Pie DVDs. Music Highlights lets you skip straight to any of 30 songs featured in the film, and Classic Quotes sends you right to any of 15 different phrases in the movie. Neither of these does much for me, but they're thoughtful additions.
This DVD’s treatment of the film’s theatrical trailer does something different. The two and a half minute ad itself appears on its own but it’s preceded by a 45-second fake public service announcement from Jason Biggs. It’s a cute touch that makes this the second time in recent memory I’ve seen something unusual accompany a trailer; Frank Oz actually offered an audio commentary for the teaser on Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
The DVD’s Production Notes are surprisingly brief and uninformative. Universal usually include fairly good text on their DVDs, but this one’s a dud. The notes inside the package’s booklet are different but not any better.
Cast and Filmmakers provides listings for director Rogers, screenwriter Herz, executive producers Chris and Paul Weisz, and actors Biggs, Elizabeth, Hannigan, Klein, Lyonne, Nicholas, Reid, Scott, Suvari, Thomas, and Levy. These are quite brief and not very useful. Oddly, the “Filmmakers” biographies don’t include filmographies, though the “Cast” entries do.
The Universal Showcase resurrects a feature that used to be fairly commonplace on their DVDs but that has largely disappeared. Here we find a trailer for the upcoming theatrical release of The Bourne Identity. The movie itself doesn’t look like anything special, but I like this feature and hope it shows up more frequently.
In a more dubious trend, the DVD includes some American Pie 2 Special Offers. As was the case with DVDs like Jurassic Park III and The Fast and the Furious, this one provides Universal Special Offers. This means we find ads for their theme parks and for the movie’s soundtrack album. Whoopee!
At least one Easter egg pops up on Pie 2, and it’s a nearly literal one at that. Go to the second “Bonus Materials” screen and click “up” until you highlight the phrase “Bonus Materials”. Hit enter and you’ll see a 25 second clip during which some cast members mock you.
American Pie 2 packs some DVD-ROM materials as well. "Stifler’s Mixer" lets you combine music stems, soundbites and various effects from the film to make your own little tune. It seems lame at first, but it actually offers a surprising amount of fun.
"About the Filmmakers" expands the brief biographies seen on the main part of the DVD. We still find entries for director Rogers, screenwriter Herz, and executive producers Chris and Paul Weitz, but we also get listings for producers Chris Moore, Craig Perry, and Warren Zide plus a very short mention of storywriter David H. Steinberg. In addition, Rogers’ slot includes two brief and somewhat bland video interview snippets. The DVD-ROM "Production Notes" offer greater depth than those found elsewhere in this package. They still aren’t anything special, but they definitely improve on the others.
Finally, Pie 2 includes the usual complement of "Weblinks." We get connections to: Universal Theme Parks; Universal Home Video; Universal Pictures; Universal Studios; and the Universal DVD Newsletter. Overall, though “Stifler’s Mix” is fun, the DVD-ROM content didn’t add a lot to the package.
Since I enjoyed the first film, I looked forward to seeing American Pie 2, but unfortunately, it was largely a dud. It came across as a pale imitation of the first that recapitulated that flick’s more extreme moments but omitted any of its heart or character. The DVD offered decent but unspectacular picture and sound while it packed in a slew of extras, including an amazing four audio commentaries. If you’re already a fan of American Pie 2, you should be happy with this DVD, but others should just stick with the original and skip this clunker.