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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 11/5/01



American Pie

reviews by Brian Ford Sullivan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

American Pie: Ultimate Edition (Unrated) American Pie (Unrated)
Ultimate Edition - 1999 (2001) - Universal

Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B/B+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): B/B

Specs and Features

Disc One: Widescreen
96 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 55:38, in chapter 11), audio commentary (with director Paul Weitz, producer Chris Weitz, writer Adam Herz and cast members Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott), Spotlight on Location featurette , outtakes, 10 deleted scenes, From the Set (photograph montage with director and producer commentary), American Pie 2 sneak peak, Tonic music video for You Wanted More, live performance by Tonic of Mean to Me and Future Says Run, 22 music highlights, 20 classic quotes, 90 poster concepts, theatrical trailer, American Pie 2 theatrical teaser, production notes, cast & filmmakers info, DVD newsletter, DVD-ROM features (including script to screen feature and weblinks), animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DTS 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English

Disc Two: Full Frame
96 mins, NR, full frame, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 55:39, in chapter 11), audio commentary (with director Paul Weitz, producer Chris Weitz, writer Adam Herz and cast members Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott), 22 music highlights, 20 classic quotes, 90 poster concepts, production notes, cast & filmmakers info, promo trailers (for American Graffiti, Animal House and The Blues Brothers), DVD newsletter, DVD-ROM features (including script to screen feature and weblinks), animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DTS 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English



American Pie: Ultimate Edition (R-Rated) American Pie (R-Rated)
Ultimate Edition - 1999 (2001) - Universal
Film Rating: A-

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B/B+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): B/B

Specs and Features

Disc One: Widescreen
96 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:02:16, in chapter 12), audio commentary (with director Paul Weitz, producer Chris Weitz, writer Adam Herz and cast members Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott), Spotlight on Location featurette, outtakes, 10 deleted scenes, From the Set (photograph montage with director and producer commentary), American Pie 2 sneak peak, Tonic music video for You Wanted More, live performance by Tonic of Mean to Me and Future Says Run, 22 music highlights, 20 classic quotes, 90 poster concepts, theatrical trailer, American Pie 2 theatrical teaser, production notes, cast & filmmakers info, DVD newsletter, DVD-ROM features (inlcuding script to screen feature and weblinks), animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DTS 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English

Disc Two: Full Frame
96 mins, R, full frame, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:02:22, in chapter 12), audio commentary (with director Paul Weitz, producer Chris Weitz, writer Adam Herz and cast members Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jason Biggs and Seann William Scott), 22 music highlights, 20 classic quotes, 90 poster concepts, production notes, cast & filmmakers info, promo trailers (for American Graffiti, Animal House and The Blues Brothers), DVD newsletter, DVD-ROM features (including script to screen feature and weblinks), animated film-themed menu screens with sound effects and music, scene access (18 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & DTS 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English


As a child of the 1980s, I think I can speak for my generation when I say we had the best teen movies. I doubt I'm the only one who thinks that Fast Time at Ridgemont High and The Breakfast Club could take any of the teen movies in the past decade (She's All That and Dude Where's My Car?, for example) in a back alley brawl without breaking a sweat. Even when you move down the food chain to the License to Drive/Back to School/Johnny Be Good level, there's just something about 80s teen films that seems inherently better than what passes as a teen movie nowadays. Perhaps it's just my own rose colored glasses when it comes to my childhood that make them seem so good in comparison. Nevertheless, teen flicks have been churned out these last few years with more regularity than a Mariah Carey breakdown, and one couldn't help but wonder when the genre would find the same magic it had back when "Save Ferris" was the coolest thing in the world.

That was until American Pie was released.

Unfairly classified as a "gross-out" comedy, Pie was probably the most brutally honest teen film to be released by a major studio since people knew who Jon Cryer was. "I hate sex," says Jim (Jason Biggs) towards the tail end of the film, "I've never even had sex and already I can't stand it." That revelation by Biggs' character is one of the many surprisingly honest moments that routinely appear in the film. Granted, said revelation comes from a guy who puts his member in a baked apple pie, but we'll attack that in a second.

American Pie is the story of four guys - the nebbish Jim (Biggs), the jock Oz (Chris Klein), the nice guy Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and the eccentric Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) - trying to line up a potential date to deflower them after senior prom, something undoubtedly on the agenda list of most teenage boys. Realizing their ineptness when it comes to dealing with women, the four make a pact to help each other in their shortcomings when it comes to the opposite sex. Whether it be Biggs' obsession with Russian foreign exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), or Thomas' inability to get his long term girlfriend (Tara Reid) to take the next big step, the foursome are there for each other at each hurdle. Mixed in with the group is a nice supporting cast of antagonists and bit players, including Seann William Scott as Stifler (the resident jackass), Eugene Levy as Jim's trying-too-hard-to-be-hip father and Natasha Lyone as the female oracle to the group.

Then, of course, there's the pie, the naked Russian girl being broadcast over the Internet and more bodily fluid this side of... well, I'll let your imagination fill in the blank on that one. Certainly, these elements made the movie unforgettable to even the most discerning viewer, however they're just as ridiculous as every sitcom in the 1980s. But American Pie isn't just a string of gross-out gags set to "we all sound like Blink 182 anyway" pop music and featuring fresh faced kids that look nothing like anybody I went to high school with. Instead, it's a string of gross-gags set to "we all sound like Blink 182 anyway" pop music and featuring fresh faced kids that look nothing like anybody I went to high school... with some honest commentary on growing up.

It's that the small edge that makes the entire experience compelling, and I'm sure if I had seen this film in my junior years, I might even say inspired by it. At the heart of American Pie is the lesson that all things associated with growing up come when they are ready... not necessarily when you are. It's only when the characters learn to relax and just enjoy themselves that the experiences they yearn for come to them.

Universal has released no less than four versions of American Pie on DVD - two so-called "Collector's Editions" and two "Ultimate Editions," one of each is the R-rated version and the other two are the unrated cut of the film. The difference between the R-rated and unrated versions is more or less neglible, as just a few extra seconds of nudity or profanity are tacked onto certain scenes. The only noticeable change in the infamous "pie" scene in the unrated version - instead of Jim standing up with the pie, he's laying face down on it on the counter. You make the call which version is appropriate for you.

As for the release differences, there's the Collector's Edition (that was released day and date with the video) and the more threateningly titled 2-Disc "Ultimate Edition". We'll walk you through the features of both for the sake of comparison, but you can also read Brad Pilcher's review of the previously released Collector's Editions here. I think you'll see it's pretty obvious there's not too much difference between the Ultimate and Collector's versions. (But just to clear up any confusion, the R-rated and unrated versions have all the same video quality and extras for that particular release, so when I refer to the Ultimate Edition I mean both the rated and unrated versions of it - same thing for the Collector's Edition.)

Now, let's talk video. Both releases feature the same video - a solid, slightly dark anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a few noticeable bits of dust and dirt visible every so often. I couldn't spot any artifacting or too much edge enhancement - all in all, it's a by-the-numbers job by the folks at Universal. (For full frame fans, the Ultimate Edition includes the full frame version on Disc Two.) On the audio side of things, both releases come with a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, with the Ultimate Edition carrying an additional DTS track. To be perfectly honest, I couldn't hear much difference between the two outside of a little more clarity on the DTS track. Overall though, very by-the-numbers, much like the video transfer.

As far as extras go, the Ultimate Edition features all the extras on the Collector's Edition (except for a minor difference that we'll get to in a second). Both versions offer up a fun audio commentary by director, writer and actors. It's a fairly lighthearted track, as everyone is quick to point out jokes that don't work, continuity errors between shots and the always-fun boom mike getting caught in view. They also have a good time making fun of the actors who didn't participate in the commentary as a pseudo-punishment for them. It's also fairly "guy" heavy, in that the actors involved frequently point out extras that are attractive and are chided by director and producer. Overall though, if you're a fan of group commentaries, this is about as good as you can get.

Universal's mainstay, the Spotlight on Location featurette, also appears on both releases, as well as glorified, alternate chapter stop selctions that are the "music highlights" and "classic quotes." Just click on one and you are instantly taken to the spot in the film in which they appear. Also included on both releases are a brief collection outtakes, recommendations of other Universal releases, cast and filmmaker biographies as well as the DVD-ROM script-to-screen option.

Now, for the options specific to each release. The Ultimate Edition duplicates the entire Collector's Edition's supplements except for the trailers for Man on the Moon and Snow Falling on Cedars in the recommendations section of the Collector's Edition. In the Ultimate Edition, they're replaced by the trailers for Animal House, The Blues Brothers and American Graffiti on Disc Two. Not that that's big a deal, but nevertheless it's a difference. The other minor difference is that the Collector's Edition has a "music highlights presentation" that spotlights the acts on the film's soundtrack, whereas the Ultimate Edition instead includes the Tonic music video for You Wanted More, as well as a surprisingly lengthy live performance by the band for the songs Mean to Me and Future Says Run. Again, pretty minor but a difference nevertheless.

As for the new material found only on the Ultimate Edition (outside of the DTS track and full-frame inclusion), there are some 10 deleted scenes that run roughly 6 minutes. Most are not really "deleted," but essentially extended versions of existing scenes that drag out things longer than they need to. All 10 scenes run concurrently - there are no chapter stops between them. The Ultimate Edition also includes 90 poster art concepts for the film, which take you through its initial titles of Great Falls and East Great Falls High, before its change to American Pie. They all more or less leave little to the imagination when it comes to sexual imagery. Also new to this release is a short behind-the-scenes featurette for American Pie 2 as well as that film's theatrical teaser.

So there you have it. Despite the length of the features list, it's not an overwhelmingly beefy release for either the Collector's or the Ultimate Editions. I wouldn't be surprised if the features on the sequel appear on the DVD release for that film, so essentially the only real addition to the Ultimate Edition is a few trailers for older films and a live performance by one of the soundtrack's artists. Not exactly a huge upgrade.

On the film side of things, you probably won't find a better "teen film" made in the last few years. Regardless of which DVD release you decide to invest in, you'll probably walk away with the same experience.

Brian Ford Sullivan
bfsullivan@thedigitalbits.com


American Pie: Ultimate Edition (Unrated)


American Pie: Ultimate Edition (R-Rated)


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