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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Cast:
Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Shannon Elizabeth, Eugene Levy, Natasha Lyonne
Writing Credits:
Adam Herz (characters), Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Tagline:
Save the best piece for last.

Synopsis:
Get ready for "flat-out hilarious, raunchy fun" (Box Office Magazine) as the whole American Pie gang returns to East Great Falls for the first time since their legendary senior year to turn their reunion into the most unforgettable weekend since high school. Old friends will reconnect, old flames will reignite, and everyone will rediscover just how much fun you can pack into one outrageous reunion. Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott and Eugene Levy, "the gang is back and better than ever!" (Jake Hamilton, Fox-TV).

Box Office:
Budget
$50 million.
Opening Weekend
$21.514 million on 3192 screens.
Domestic Gross
$56.724 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
English Descriptive Video Service
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish

Runtime: 113 min. (Rated Version) / 114 min. (Unrated Version)
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 7/10/2012

Bonus:
• Both Rated and Unrated Versions
• Audio Commentary with Directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
• 7 Deleted Scenes
• 13 Extended Scenes
• Alternate Takes
• Gag Reel
• “The Out of Control Track”
• “The Reunion Reunion: Re-Launching the Series” Featurette
• “The Best of Biggs” Featurette
• “Lake Bake” Featurette
• “Dancing with the Oz” Featurette
• “American Gonad-iators: The Fight Scene” Featurette
• “Jim’s Dad” Featurette
• “Ouch! My Balls!” Featurette
• “American Reunion Yearbook”
• Previews
• DVD Copy


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


American Reunion [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 3, 2012)

Recent history hasn’t been kind to “1990s franchises brought back to life for fourth installments”. Granted, that’s a pretty limited sub-genre, but it’s still one with two notable recent duds.

Back in 2011, Scream 4 continued the once-popular horror series. Audiences greeted it with a yawn. Though the first two movies cleared $100 million and the third installation brought in $89 million, Scream 4 managed a disappointing $38 million.

With a $56 million gross, 2012’s American Reunion - the fourth theatrical flick in the American Pie franchise – did better than that, but it still registered a huge drop from the $100 million-plus made by its three predecessors. Perhaps the series would’ve ended with Reunion anyway, but I suspect Reunion’s lackluster reception will prove to be the death knell.

We last saw former high school classmates Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) at their wedding. Now they’re long-married and in the middle of sexual doldrums, partly inspired by the wearying nature of caring for their two-year-old son Evan (George Michael Bianchi). They attempt to find ways to rekindle their old spark.

Jim and Michelle hope that the belated high school 10-year reunion for the class of 1999 helps bring back youthful memories/feelings, so they head back home for this big event. All their old buddies return as well, so we catch up with the gang and find out what changes have occurred over the years.

That’s not the world’s greatest plot synopsis, I admit, but Reunion doesn’t come with the world’s most dynamic plot, so it’ll suffice. I’m more than fine with that, as the Pie series always consisted of character moments/comedic bits without a lot of narrative to carry the day. This worked fine for the original film but less well for the sequels, largely because a) the characters lacked the same heart as the franchise progressed, and b) the gags weren’t especially funny.

Unfortunately, Reunion doesn’t alter this equation. When I looked at the credits for Reunion, I was surprised to realize that writers/directors Hayden Schlossberg and Jon Hurwitz had no prior connection to the American Pie franchise. They got their big break as the writers of the first Harold and Kumar flick and also directed Escape from Guantanamo Bay.

Given that virtually all of the notable Pie actors came back to the fold, I guess I expected everyone major to return and make Reunion a true reunion. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Pie directors Chris and Paul Weitz have remained involved as executive producers of all four flicks but haven’t taken a greater creative role since the first, so their relative absence probably shouldn’t be a shock.

However, Reunion offered the first theatrical Pie movie not written by Adam Herz, so that seems like a bigger surprise. Herz also acts as executive producer, but Schlossburg and Hurwitz direct their own script.

Because the first Pie was the only one I ever really liked, maybe it’s not a bad thing that Reunion opts for new creative blood. I figured that perhaps Schlossberg and Hurwitz came up as fans of the franchise – both were college-age when the first flick premiered – and perhaps they’d bring new energy to the film.

Nope. Instead, the opposite seems true, as it feels like Hurwitz, Schlossberg and basically all involved are content to simply show up and coast through this lazy reinvestigation of the characters.

Perhaps “lazy” is a little strong, as I don’t want to imply the participants don’t try to make an entertaining film. However, no one brings any real life to the project. The movie lacks much to make it move, as in addition to the thin narrative, we see precious little that comes across as fun.

Oh, we manage to find the occasional chuckle, but don’t expect much amusement. Also don’t anticipate much material that qualifies as interesting or intriguing. With nearly infinite chances to find clever ways to expand on the participants, Reunion leaves us without much. Some theoretically amusing notions emerge – like Stifler’s menial job – but the flick’s general lethargy lampoons these.

I suspect a viewer’s enjoyment of Reunion will rely almost entirely on that person’s nostalgia for the original. It refers back to the first flick just enough to elicit some fond memories, but when Reunion tries to branch out on its own, it goes nowhere. This ends up as a dull, slow-paced (probable) conclusion to the franchise.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

American Reunion appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a good but not great image.

Overall sharpness was fine. The majority of the film showed positive clarity and delineation; it rarely came across as impressive in this regard, but the transfer offered more than adequate accuracy. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects occurred, and edge enhancement was absent. I also failed to detect any source flaws.

In terms of colors, the movie featured a natural palette that favored a slight golden tone. Across the board, the hues looked positive. They showed nice clarity and breadth and came out well. Blacks seemed reasonably deep, though they could be a little too dense, and shadows were similarly acceptable; low-light shots weren’t opaque, but they could’ve been a bit clearer. The movie looked appealing; it just didn’t have a lot of zing to the image.

I thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Reunion seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides. Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. Most of the movie stayed with limited imaging, so don’t expect much from the soundscape.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.

Expect a slew of extras here. First, the Blu-ray provides both the film’s rated (1:52:52) and unrated (1:53:51) cuts. What do you get from the added 59 seconds? I can’t say – I only watched the unrated cut, so I don’t know what differences exist. Nonetheless, I wanted to mention the presence of both editions.

The movie includes an audio commentary from writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story/character areas, links to the prior Pie flicks, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, production design, editing and deleted scenes, influences and a mix of other issues.

While I thought their movie was uninspired, Schlossberg and Hurwitz produce a simply terrific commentary. They cover a wide variety of appropriate topics and do so in an unusually insightful manner. In particular, they give really good thought about what they wanted to do with the story and characters. All of this ensures a commentary with a surprising amount of depth and detail; it’s one of the best I’ve heard in a while.

Seven Deleted Scenes occupy a total of seven minutes, 51 seconds. We find “Jim Comes Home Drunk” (0:58). “Heather and Mia” (0:38), “Oz Asks Heather Out” (1:20), “Stifler Preps for Party” (1:21), “Finch and Jess” (2:08), “Vicky’s New Guy” (0:36) and “Finch and Selena in Bathroom Stall” (0:50). The two Finch scenes are the most prime candidates for inclusion in the final cut; “Jess” lets Natasha Lyonne have more than a tiny cameo, and “Stall” pays off with a link to a memorable Finch scene from the original. The others tend to be less interesting.

We also locate 13 Extended Scenes (26:25) and a collection of Alternate Takes (3:53). Some of the extensions barely pad out existing sequences, while others tend to be lengthier. For the most part, they don’t add much, though “Never Have I Ever…” actually works pretty well, and one that refers back to the original flick should’ve stayed. As for the “Alternate Takes”, they’re mildly amusing at times, especially when we get John Cho’s roughly 137 different versions of “Jim, don’t be a pussy”; the line of readings threatens to never end, which makes it bizarrely entertaining.

Next comes a Gag Reel. It goes for three minutes, 42 seconds and provides the standard roster of goofs and giggles. A few improvs add a little, but expect the usual silliness.

A video commentary arrives via the Out of Control Track. It runs alongside the movie’s entire (theatrical version) running time and gives us occasional pop-up comments from actors Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, and Tara Reid. They tell us a little about their characters and performances as well as some other aspects of the film.

This might’ve been a useful feature – if the actors showed up with any regularity. I’d speculate that we get maybe 10 minutes of content across the film’s 113 minutes – and that might be a generous estimate. That’s an awfully low return on investment, especially since many of the actor pop-ins consist of Biggs muttering “I am a come robot!” You can skip this feature and miss virtually nothing.

A few featurettes ensue. The Reunion Reunion: Re-Launching the Series lasts 10 minutes, 32 seconds and offers info from Hurwitz, Schlossberg, Hannigan, Biggs, Nicholas, Scott, Klein, Suvari, Reid, producers Craig Perry and Chris Moore, production designer Bill Arnold, and actors Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge, Eugene Levy, and Ali Cobrin. “Series” looks at bringing all the actors back to the franchise, sets and locations, characters and performances, and general thoughts. “Series” stays pretty superficial, so don’t expect much from it. Still, as glossy featurettes go, it’s decent.

With the three-minute, 37-second The Best of Biggs: Hangin’ with Jason B., we locate comments from Biggs, Hurwitz, Schlossberg, Perry, Thomas, Hannigan, Scott, and Suvari. We hear a lot about how great and fun Biggs is. Some of the shots from the set add interest, but the comments don’t tell us much.

Under Lake Bake, we see a four-minute, 31-second reel with Perry, Arnold, Biggs, Thomas, Klein, and Scott. The program offers details about the lake location and the scenes shot there. While not a particularly deep piece, it offers enough useful material to make it worth a look.

Dancing with the Oz runs two minutes, 50 seconds and delivers notes from Hurwitz, Schlossberg, Klein, Arnold, costume designer Mona May, actor Jay Harrington and choreographer Steven Jones. This show tells us about the movie’s Dancing with the Stars style sequence. Like “Bake”, it lacks a lot of meat, but it’s a reasonable overview of the subject matter.

After that we go to American Gonad-iators: The Fight Scene. It lasts four minutes, 13 seconds and features Scott, Biggs, Klein, Schlossberg, Hurwitz, Perry, Thomas, Biggs, Nicholas, and stunt coordinator Thomas McComas. In this one, we get thoughts about the movie’s climactic action scene. Expect a featurette reminiscent of the last few, as this one offers a breezy take on its subject matter.

Another actor/character becomes the focus of Jim’s Dad. This reel fills two minutes, 47 seconds with thoughts from Biggs, Levy, Hannigan, May and property master Todd Ellis. Here we get a few notes about Levy’s character and performance. We don’t learn much, but some of the behind the scenes shots become fun.

Ouch! My Balls! takes up one minute, 47 seconds. In it, we locate info from Biggs, Nicholas, Thomas, and Perry. They tell us that the actors liked to punch each other in the shnuts throughout the shoot. That’s it.

Finally, we get the American Reunion Yearbook. This offers an interactive piece that allows you to click on any of the original flick’s 13 characters and learn more about them. The “Yearbook” delivers photos, text quotes/messages, movie clips and short interview snippets with the actors; these occupy a total of 14 minutes, eight seconds. They offer notes about the characters and help flesh out the roles in a minor way.

The disc opens with ads for Universal 100, the American Pie series on Blu-ray, Wanderlust, and the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. No trailer for Reunion appears here.

A second disc delivers a DVD Copy of Reunion. This provides a standard retail copy of the film, so it offers more value than it otherwise might.

After 13 years and a mix of bad sequels – theatrical and direct-to-video alike – I hoped that American Reunion might bring the series back to its comedic roots. However, it lacks the spark to make it enjoyable; while it’s nice to see all the old characters again, the movie does little with them to amuse and entertain. The Blu-ray provides reasonably good picture and sound along with a set of supplements led by a terrific audio commentary. American Pie diehards might get something out of this flick, but it leaves me bored.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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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