American Reunion (Blu-ray)

July 9, 2012 10 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

In 1999, a movie came out that literally changed the face of teen comedies and even our pop culture as we know it.  Allow me to explain.  No, I’m not talking about The Matrix, though it could be argued that the Keanu Reeves film had as much impact on our society as American Pie.  Yes, American Pie.  What was touted to be another teen comedy actually turned out to have some heart and it’s inspired three sequels and four spinoffs under the “Amercian Pie” name.  This is the new National Lampoon’s, folks.  American Pie introduced us to the phrase MILF (and I’ll let you look up what that means if you’re one of the four people unfamiliar with the term).  It also gave us what was possible with the fledgling internet and gave us a snapshot into the lives of four friends and their quest for one thing – sex.  But that was in 1999 and it’s now 2012.  Times change, people age and what was a big deal when you were in high school most likely isn’t even a thought now.  We now have American Reunion, which literally reunites the entire cast.  Is this as endearing as the original or just a blatant attempt to once again cash in on the franchise?

We meet Jim (Jason Biggs) as he and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are still married (they were married in 2003’s American Wedding, the last official installment to this franchise) and now have a two year old.  However Jim still has his libido, though their sex life isn’t what it used to be.  Oz (Chris Klein) is now the host of a sports talk show and his girlfriend is into anything but him.  Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is now married and is a house husband, with a sentence to some really bad reality television as his “escape.” Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has led an extraordinary life that’s seen him go around the world.  This leaves us with Stifler (Seann William Scott) who’s doing some temp work at a firm pretending to be something he’s not – successful.  But all of these things pale in comparison to the belated reunion which reunites the gang. Old feelings are rekindled, Jim’s being pursued by the girl (who just turned 18) he used to babysit and Stifler is trying to fit in with anyone and everyone.  If American Pie was to your liking, this is just a more grown up version of the original.

It’s been nearly a decade since we had a new installment in the American Pie franchise and I’d say it was worth the wait.  We’ve literally watched these characters grow up on screen and as they now enter their 30’s, it’s clear that the problems they face aren’t the same ones as they did in high school.  Having gone through the same thing, I can say that it’s a fairly accurate representation of life itself.  People change, they grow up and get married and have kids.  Not everyone, but it’s the way of the world.  And in a way, this film is a lot more endearing then the first three.  I even went back and watched the original after this one was over which now classifies as “nostalgic” to me.  It’s still a great movie, but I think the generation that saw the original in theaters will appreciate this one a bit more.  That’s not to say there’s a lack of humor or entertainment – let’s not forget the name.  This isn’t some sappy, sentimental walk down memory lane.  Some of the bigger characters were given larger parts like “MILF Guy #2 (John Cho)”, though some of the other characters are in the “blink and you’ll miss them” category.  Whatever your opinion of the franchise, it’s safe to say that the American Pie movies have finally grown up, if only a little bit.

Video: How does it look?

Universal has offered up American Reunion in a 1.85:1 AVC HD image that looks just as we’d expect it to – excellent.  Being a new to Blu-ray film, the colors are strong and bold, the detail is crystal clear and we only get the slightest hiccup in the contrast department.  After watching the original, it’s clear (pardon the pun) that these actors have aged and we can see some of the grey hairs and wrinkles in their faces.  Hey, it happens to us all!  Still, the image looks clear, clean and consistent throughout and I hardly think that anyone will have a problem with how this looks on Blu-ray.

Audio: How does it sound?

Likewise the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is littered with a smattering of late 90’s hits (that aren’t included on the soundtrack) that will take you back in time a dozen years.  Dialogue is clean and crisp and we get to hear each and every four letter word in the utmost uncompressed clarity.  There aren’t a whole lot of ambient effects that really make use of the speakers, but there are a few instantces which they come into play.  The front stage handles the majority of the action and I think I heard the LFE kick in once or twice.  Still, the action is more on the screen and while the soundtrack compliments it, it’s not something that really makes the film work.  A note on the soundtrack, you’ll have to hunt for some of the songs yourself as the official movie soundtrack doesn’t have any of the good ones.  I downloaded “My Own Worst Enemy” by Sil as an example.

Supplements: What are the extras?

In regard to the supplements, we do get a lot of content, but not a whole lot of substance.  The included commentary track by co-writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg is pretty insightful, with some good points made and about how this might stack up to the original.  It’s not Earth-shattering, but it’s a good listen if you’re so inclined.  Next up are some short featurettes, all are shown in HD.  We get some deleted scenes, alternate takes and a gag reel as well as an “Out of Control” track where members of the cast pop up and poke fun of the characters and even themselves.  It’s interesting, but a bit annoying after a while.  “The Reunion: RE-launching the Series” is just that, a look at why they chose now to make a fourth installment in the franchise.  “The Best of Biggs: Hanging with Jason B.” is kind of promotional fluff and a bit of kissing up to the star/producer of this most recent installment.  “Dancing with Oz” showcases the character’s dance moves (he had appeared on a “Dancing with the Stars” type of show) while “American Gonad-iators: The Fight Scene” gives us some highlights of the brawl between the old and the young and how Thomas Ian Nicholas did his own stunts. “Jim’s Dad” is an interview with star Eugene Levy, the only person to appear in all 8 American Pie films, as he  offers his insight and thoughts on the role that’s kept him employed for the last 13 years. “Ouch! My balls!” is just that – the male members of the crew kept themselves entertained throughout the shoot by punching one another in the groin.  Sounds like fun.  Lastly we have “American Reunion Yearbook” an interactive feature that let’s you select a character and you get a “where are they now” effect.  The disc is also BD-Live enabled, there’s a DVD of the film on a separate disc as well.

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