American Pie Presents Beta House appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Beta came with a rather mediocre transfer.
Sharpness provided one of the erratic elements. Though most of the flick demonstrated acceptable to good definition, more than a few shots came across as mildly soft and hazy. These didn’t dominate, but they left a lackluster impression much of the time. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge enhancement was minimal. Source flaws also seemed absent in this clean presentation.
Colors were ordinary. The hues appeared reasonably vivid but could come across as somewhat drab and runny on occasion. There was a moderately heavy tone to the colors. Blacks were reasonably deep and tight, but shadows tended to be a little thick. Overall, the movie remained watchable but too ordinary to merit a grade over a “C+”.
Similar thoughts greeted average the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Beta House. Examine the audio of pretty much every other comedy of this sort and you’ll know what to expect from the soundfield. It was a front-heavy affair that usually didn’t offer much more than general ambience. However, the band performance sequences added a little more zest than usual, and they filled out the spectrum well. Just don’t expect action-movie material from this restrained mix.
Audio quality was lackluster. Speech seemed intelligible and usually natural, though a little edginess occasionally occurred. Music varied but usually appeared a bit flat. Some scenes – like those with the club music at the fraternity – showed decent range, but others appeared rather thin and without heft. Effects remained a minor issue, but they presented acceptable delineation. They seemed reasonably clear and accurate. Overall, the soundtrack was decent and that’s about it.
A mix of extras rounds out this DVD. We start with an audio commentary from director Andrew Waller, writer/co-producer Erik Lindsay, and actors John White, Steve Talley, Jake Siegel, Meghan Heffern and Nic Nac. All of them sit together for this running, screen-specific track. They discuss cast and performances, sets and locations, a few story and editing notes, and various bits of production trivia.
An insubstantial movie gets an insubstantial commentary. The participants joke around a lot, make more than a few off-color comments and tell us a little about the flick along the way. They offer enough facts about the flick to make the track listenable, but don’t expect anything particularly interesting or informative.
Unused material shows up in the next three areas. Deleted Storylines goes for a total of 15 minutes, 40 seconds. It breaks into “Jake Parker MIA” (4:30), “Rodney MIA” (1:51), “The Blackout Menace” (3:26), “Who’s That Girl?” (1:40) and “The International Party” (4:11). “Parker” concentrates on a nerd who changes sides, while “Rodney” looks at a Beta pledge who pops up sporadically as a running gag. “Menace” gives us more of that drunken character’s antics, and “Girl” digs more into what happens with Edgar’s girlfriend. Finally, “Party” shows a gathering with an international flavor. Are any of these funny? No, though they’re no worse than anything in the final flick. At least they offer a few more shots of topless women.
Five Deleted Scenes go for a total of four minutes, 26 seconds. Here we find “Wanna Go to a Wedding?” (1:02), “Let The Games Begin!” (0:21), “The Lightning Bolts of Zeus” (2:09), “The Roman Baths” (0:24) and “Edgar’s Epilogue” (0:28). Most of these offer nothing more than minor snippets, but “Zeus” presents a cut contest from the Olympiad. Inanity results.
We can watch the “Deleted Storylines” and “Deleted Scenes” with or without commentary from the same crew who chatted along with the final film. Actor Bradford Anderson also shows up for the “Storylines” discussion. They give us some insights into the shooting of the segments, but they don’t usually tell us what the sequences failed to make the cut.
More cut footage shows up in the Outtakes. This three-minute and 45-second collection presents some of the usual goofs and giggles, but it focuses more on alternate takes and improv bits. That makes it more interesting for fans.
After this we get a series of featurettes. An Exclusive Interview with Mr. Levenstein goes for three minutes, 19 seconds and provides an in-character chat. Eugene Levy plays Mr. Levenstein again as he discusses the banned Olympiad. It’s almost funny, but not quite.
Next comes the six-minute and 39-second Behind the Games. It presents notes from Waller, Lindsey, White, Talley, Nic Nac, co-producer Byron Martin and actor Joe Eigo. It looks at the various contests in the Olympiad and provides some notes about them. It remains superficial, so don’t expect much from it.
Beta House: Not Just Another Slice of Pie lasts 13 minutes, 41 seconds and features Waller, White, Talley, Lindsay, Nic Nac, Siegel, Heffern, Eigo, producer Keith Border, ostrich and sheep wrangler Tim Height, and actors Christopher McDonald, Tyrone Savage, Sarah Power, Christine Barger, and Jonathon Keltz. A superficial piece, “Pie” goes over the story and characters as well as a few elements of the flick. Nothing of interest ever develops here.
For the three-minute and one-second Nuts About Pie, we see various Beta participants as they flick each other in the balls. Seriously. I don’t know if this is the dumbest DVD extra ever, but it’s gotta be high on the list.
American Pie Presents: A Public Service Announcement lasts a mere one minute, 53 seconds. As you watch Beta, you might think it encourages random sex, binge drinking and the like. And it does, but “Announcement” tries to deny all responsibility with its message not to do any of those things. It’s unconvincing at best.
More fluff arrives via the two-minute and 12-second UGO’s Foxy Fan on the Set featurette. We follow a sexy extra as she wanders through the shoot. And that’s about it, as it doesn’t offer anything more substantial than that. It’s really just an ad for UGO.com.
An odd extra, the DVD includes a Boobie Yule Log. This presents “four fun settings”: “Jingle Bells”, “Tassels”, “Birthday Suit” and “Bigger and Better”. The “Yule Log” just shows close ups of bouncing breasts accompanied by music. I feel as though I should enjoy it more than I do, but it leaves me cold. Oh, and skip “Bigger”, as it features a very unattractive guy instead of a hot girl.
Next we find two Music Videos. We locate “Won More Time” and “Luv T’Day” by God Made Me Funky. Both simply consist of band lip-synch performances shot on the set. I don’t think they’re shots taken straight from the film – at least not all of them – but they play that way. The songs are forgettable and the videos aren’t interesting either. They just show the band performance as well as lots of glimpses of the cast as they dance. Yawn!
We also get a Bonus 30 Rock Episode. Entitled “Hard Ball”, it runs 21 minutes, 37 seconds. Why is this episode of 30 Rock here? I have no idea, as I can’t figure out a connection between the series and Pie. It’s easily the funniest thing on this DVD, though, as it’s about 1000 times more entertaining than the movie itself.
The DVD opens with some ads. We get promos for Bring It On: In It to Win It, Balls of Fury, HD-DVD, The Strangers and White Noise 2.
If you’re keeping score, the American Pie series has produced one good movie and five poor ones. Actually, compared to the atrocity called Beta House - the sixth Pie effort – relative crap like Pie 2 and American Wedding actually look brilliant. Beta lowers the bar even farther and produces a stunningly terrible film. The DVD offers mediocre picture and sound along with a collection of generally forgettable extras. This is a bland disc for a terrible film.