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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andrew Waller
Cast:
Eugene Levy, Steve Talley, John White, Christopher McDonald, Jake Siegel, Angel Lewis, Sarah Power, Italia Ricci, Robbie Amell, Shannon Beckner, Moshana Halbert
Writing Credits:
Adam Herz (characters), Erik Lindsay

Synopsis:
Erik, Ryan, and Cooze start college and pledge the Beta House fraternity, presided over by none other than legendary Dwight Stifler. But chaos ensues when a fraternity of geeks threatens to stop the debauchery and the Betas have to make a stand for their right to party.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 89 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 12/23/2007

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Waller, Writer/Co-Producer Erik Lindsay and Actors Steve Talley, Jake Siegel, John White, Meghan Heffern and Nic Nac
• Deleted Storylines with Optional Commentary
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Outtakes
• “Exclusive Interview with Mr. Levenstein” Featurette
• “Behind the Games” Featurette
• “Beta House: Not Just Another Slice of Pie” Featurette
• “Boobie Yule Log”
• “Nuts About Pie” Featurette
• “American Pie Presents: A Public Service Announcement”
• “UGO’s Foxy Fan on the Set” Featurette
• Two Music Videos
• Bonus 30 Rock Episode
• Previews


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RELATED REVIEWS


American Pie Presents Beta House: Unrated (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 5, 2008)

As another year comes to a close, we get another direct-to-video American Pie sequel. Someone must like them, since 2007 marks the third straight year with one of these efforts. 2005 brought us Band Camp, while 2006 produced The Naked Mile. Both were misbegotten disasters. Read on to see if Beta improved on that mold.

As with the two prior sequels, Beta focuses on the Stifler boys. Erik (John White) returns from Mile and heads to college with his buddy Mike Coozeman (Jake Siegel). We also meet Erik’s roommate Bobby (Nic Nac) and re-encounter Erik’s lady-killing cousin Dwight (Steve Talley). Dwight heads Beta House, a wild, party-hearty Greek organization.

Much of the film follows Erik’s whiny adventures. He falls for cute dormmate Ashley (Meghan Heffern) and also tries to fit in at Beta. Erik lacks the party animal attitude expected, but he gets in as a legacy and attempts to live up to Stifler expectations.

The Betas also encounter problems via the nerds at the “Geek House”. These brainiacs essentially run the university, and they aim to eliminate the party scene at the school. That means they target Beta as public enemy number one. This sets up a series of battles between the Geeks and the Betas.

And utter boredom results. Sometimes I think I should simply cut and paste my Pie reviews, since these direct-to-video sequels are so similar. They sort of attempt different settings, but they tell nearly identical tales.

The first Pie was technically about high school kids who want to get laid, but it managed to produce a decent “coming of age” subtext, and it was surprisingly warm and funny. After that, the flicks rapidly degenerated to the point that the last few have been about nothing more than crass sight gags and boob shots and almost non-existent storylines.

Essentially the film consists of nothing more than a vaguely related collection of comedic bits. It jumps from one to another without any real logic or cohesion. I may have provided a plot synopsis above, but view it in the loosest possible manner, as the film barely attempts to integrate its gags into a real story.

If those jokes provided any laughs, I might feel more forgiving, but just like its predecessors, Beta proves relentlessly unfunny. The stabs at humor usually involve various forms of bodily fluids and ejaculates. Think it’s hilarious to watch sperm and vomit fly? Then you’ll love Beta, as it repeats those jokes over and over again.

The actors all look bored, and I can’t blame them. The “comedy” was stale many movies ago, and it doesn’t improve with age. Eugene Levy really belongs in some sort of Hall of Shame at this point. I will always love him for his excellent work on SCTV as well as the various Chris Guest flicks, but he appears bound and determined to absolutely trash his legacy with flicks like this.

Levy remains the only Pie veteran to carry on through these direct-to-video efforts. He’s been in all six Pie films, and if there’s a seventh out at Christmas 2008, I bet he’ll show up there as well. I can’t imagine he does these for anything other than a paycheck, and I have to wonder if it’s worth it. Maybe we should run a fundraiser for Levy if he’s that bad off, though I find it hard to imagine he needs to money so badly that he must stoop to this level.

Does Beta at least score in terms of its nudity? Yeah, to a certain degree it does, so at least that side of things doesn’t completely disappoint. We find many boob shots, though not as many as Mile given its setting. We also get the occasional butt shot as well as one very nice full-frontal segment with a girl who gets out of a coed shower.

That image almost makes Beta House worthwhile, as the unnamed actress proves exceedingly sexy. Otherwise, this flick is an utter waste of time. Crass, unfunny and downright stupid, it’s lowest-common-denominator comedy at its worst.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+ Audio C+/ Bonus C+

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.3728 Stars Number of Votes: 59
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main