American Pie Presents: Band Camp
Whenever a film makes significantly more money than was required for production it is declared a hit by the executive studio suits and sequels follow. Often, when this goes on for a few films it is proclaimed a franchise, usually indicating the subsequent flicks are only remotely like the original. Such is the case for the latest in the growingly long line of American Pie movies. American Pie Presents Band Camp is such a film. Now going direct to video used to be an assurance of a bomb that would not fly in the theaters. This has been somewhat mitigated now that DVDs are so popular. While this film would not have done well against the films that are in theaters now it does generally delivers what it promises, mildly raunchy humor that will appeal to the seven year old in all of us. Now that is not really a bad thing, we all need to occasionally let go of our adult sensibilities and forget the problems of the world. This film does permit that escape.
In the previous films Stifler’s little brother Matt (Tad Hilgenbrink) shares his older brother’s perchance for practical jokes. After an incident with pepper spray the popular jocks is given a choice by teacher Chuck Sherman (Chris Owen) of losing his place on the team or spend time in band camp. Matt takes his punishment but reforming his childish ways appears to be the farthest thing in his mind. He loads his suitcase up with the tools of his prankish ways including several miniature hidden cameras. While at camp Matt discovers that his ex-girlfriend Elyse (Arielle Kebbel) is also in attendance. She is much more serious than Matt, attending to help further her ambitions of a serious career in music as a conductor and writer. Naturally, as films like this proceed, Matt is determined to rekindle the flames of romance while taking a little revenge for the breakup.
Mostly the plot, or what there is of it, just forms a framework for the puerile pranks that are the focal point of the flick. The writers have truly channeled their inner child to come up with this round of borderline gross occurrences. There is no surprise at all that the aforementioned cameras would find their way into the female dressing room. Keeping with the traditions set by the first American Pie flick bodily fluids are once again employed in novel albeit somewhat disgusting ways. Matt winds up drinking from a soda can spiked with the fluids obtained by the spit valves of the brass section. Sun tan lotion is mixed with seamen and liberally applied to the faces of unsuspecting guys. A marching band has a serious bout of vomiting after being dosed with Ipecac. Finally, having sex with inanimate objects is placed in play during a scene where Matt becomes involved with an oboe. Of course he finds himself stuck in that embarrassing situation. Are all of these scenes gross, of course? Still most adults will connect with that school kid hidden deep inside and laugh.
A person doesn’t watch this type of film with expectations of the next Oscar pick. If you want a film that although juvenile will provide some laughs than you will not be disappointed. While not as good as the original the film has its moments. This is the kind of flick that you invite some friends over, order a couple of pizzas and open a case of beer. For ninety minutes you will forget all about what you just saw on the news and go back to third grade again.
Tad Hilgenbrink is practically a clone of Seann William Scott, the actor who created the role of Matt’s big brother. He has the rubbery facial expressions down pat and has a good sense of comic timing required pulling off the pranks that make up this movie. He does, however, is not afforded the opportunity to connect emotionally with the audience. He comes across as the spoiled jock that even though he is being punished not only fails to learn his lesson but seems to get worse. Of course, this is what the producers where going for. Arielle Kebbel is exceptionally cute and bubbly. She is the perfect foil for Hilgenbrink and appears to have the talent that hopefully will be better utilized in future films. The one real star here is Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad. His comic abilities are paramount, able to do well in any situation. With his dry sense of humor he instills a big of more mature humor into the mix. The remainder of the cast where apparently hired for good looking victims for the pranks.
The high point of director’s Steve Rash’s career came with his first film in 1978, ‘The Buddy Holly Story’. Since then he has become involved in a series of less none flicks. Here, he does demonstrate that he knows how to pace a film. The comedy comes in episodic skits with some breaks for the set up of the next gag. He reigns in the chaos so as to make the film as good as this genre would allow. Rash lets the basic premise quickly move into the action that is the center of the film.
Universal has done a remarkable job of releasing this on DVD. More attention to the presentation was given than most studios provide their A-List titles. The 1.78:1 anamorphic is crisp and clear. There is excellent contrast between light and dark with no compression artifacts in sight. The audio is provided in both Dolby 5.1 and DTS. Both tracks offer a full range of the audio spectrum. The sub woofer is rarely engaged and the rear speakers are used mostly for ambience. There is also more extras than usually presented. There are about four minutes of outtakes and another eleven minutes of deleted scenes. The Band Camp girls are featured in a couple of extras. ‘Poolside With Band Camp Girls’ offers up a conversation with the girls while a more animated look is featured with Band Camp Girls: The Music Video. Former adult film start Ginger Lynn Allen is given a chance to chat with ‘Unrated Love Lessons With Ginger Lynn’. The almost required behind the scenes featurette is provided with Band Camp's Dirty Secrets. Finally there is a fourteen minute featurette called ‘Rover Cam Uncut!’ which has the hidden camera roam over the set. The film does have it’s moment.