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While sequels rarely live up to the films that inspired them, AMERICAN PIE 2 ($27) is a worthwhile successor that produces laughs on a consistent basis. This second helping of AMERICAN PIE catches up with the group of high school characters, the summer after their freshman year of college. After attending different schools, Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Stifler (Seann William Scott) renew their high school friendship by renting a lakeside house for the summer. Although a year older, the guysí obsession with their fairer sex remains unabated, and somewhat unfulfilled.

Speaking of unfulfilled, Jim learns that Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), the girl of his greatest sexual fantasy and biggest sexual failure, will be coming to visit him at the end of the summer. Hoping desperately not to disappoint Nadia again, Jim seeks tutoring from his band camp nerd prom date Michele (Alyson Hannigan), the only girl with whom heís had any real experience. Also unfulfilled is Finch, who is obsessing over his fling with the ultimate MILF- Stiflerís Mom (Jennifer Coolidge). Kevin isnít fairing any better by trying to rekindle his relationship with his former girlfriend Vicky (Tara Reid) and neither is Oz, who finds his attempts at phone sex with his girlfriend Heather (Mena Suvari), who is studying abroad for the summer, constantly thwarted. Of course, the guysí "dry spell" leads to almost all of the filmís humor, including the very funny "superglue" and "lesbian" scenes. Also returning for another slice in AMERICAN PIE 2 are Natasha Lyonne, Chris Owen and a scene stealing Eugene Levy.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made AMERICAN PIE 2 available on DVD in four flavors, including rated and unrated, wide screen and full screen. I was fortunate to view the unrated wide screen version, which features a 1.85:1 presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a great looking transfer that delivers a clean, crisp image and a solid level of detail throughout. Colors are strong and vibrant, plus the flesh tones are right on the money. All of the hues are completely stable, with no signs of chroma noise or bleeding anywhere. Blacks are solid, contrast is smooth and shadow detail is just fine. The film element used for the transfer is free from blemishes, plus noticeable grain is almost completely absent from the presentation. The dual layer DVD doesnít display any appreciable signs of digital compression artifacts, despite having both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks, along with a healthy batch of supplemental features.

While the DVD has 5.1 channel soundtracks in both formats, the fact that AMERICAN PIE 2 has a typical comedy mix doesnít make this a disc for critical listening. The sound is competent and clean, with a strong presence in the forward soundstage and limited usage of the surround channels. Dialogue is crisp and completely intelligible. Music is the strongest element on the track, with the numerous pop songs sounding just fine. The Bass channel is solid enough for the material, which does not require any ground shaking activity. Differences between Dolby Digital and DTS are negligible, so pick your favorite flavor and turn up the volume. Subtitles have been provided on the DVD in English and French.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVDs deep-dish supplemental section. AMERICAN PIE 2 serves up four separate running audio commentaries. Director J.B. Rogers is featured on the first track, screenwriter Adam Herz is on the second track, performers Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, and Thomas Ian Nicholas are on the third track, while actor Eddie Kay Thomas speaks on the forth. All of the tracks have their moments; the director and screenwriter tracks offer the most production details, the Biggs, Suvari, Nicholas track is the most accessible and the Thomas track is droll and amusing, although sometimes a bit sparse.

Running slightly under twenty-five minutes is The Baking of American Pie 2, a somewhat fluffy, but decidedly enjoyable making of featurette. The five-minute Good Times With Cast and Crew offers an additional glimpse behind-the-scenes, focusing on the general goofiness that occurred on the set. Even more goofiness can be found in the five minute long Gag Reel of Outtakes. The Original Casting Tapes From American Pie gives one a look at Jason Biggs, Shannon Elizabeth, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Eddie Kay Thomas as they tried out for their roles in the first film. Seven Deleted Scenes are included, and while some are amusing, they were edited out of the film to tighten the filmís pacing. A 3 Doors Down music video for the song Be Like That is also provided. Your Favorite Piece of Pie are the ten most popular scenes from both films, which were selected by fans via an internet poll. Classic Quotes offers brief snippets from the film that features the lines in question. Music Highlights is an index of the filmís soundtrack that will take the viewer to the moment in which the particular song occurs. Jason Biggs provides a public service warning before the filmís amusing theatrical trailer. Production notes and cast biographies/filmographies close out the major video supplements. AMERICAN PIE 2 is also DVD-ROM enhanced, with additional features for those with a properly equipped PC.

AMERICAN PIE 2 is a fun and funny movie that will tickle the fans of the first film. Universalís DVD looks great and sounds just fine, plus they extensive supplements make this a disc worth having. If you are in the mood for another piece of pie, you canít go wrong with the DVD.


American Pie 2 Collectors Edition -Widescreen (Unrated)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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