American Pie Presents: Beta House
In 1999 a raunchy comedy was released that took the audience by storm, American Pie. The story was familiar to most people, four teenaged boys looking to loose their virginity before they graduated high school. It became infamous for the most unusual use of a freshly baked apple pie ever and made most boys hope that their school would start a student exchange program. Sequels follow box office success like night follows day so it is not a surprise that American Pie 2 would come out in 2001 followed two years after that with American Wedding. Most thought that they would stick to having a trilogy and this franchise would be over. The thing is these films are not very expensive to make. For the cost of a few million dollars there is a guaranteed profit. This especially holds true if you skip the cost of a theatrical release and go straight to DVD. Starting in 2005 and continuing each year thereafter there has been a direct to video installment of this lucrative franchise. Well, it’s that time of year again folks and the annual slice of pie is here. This time out the fraternity/sorority Greek system is the focus in a little flick called American Pie Presents: Beta House.
There was a time when a franchise had a lot more in common. Usually a character was present in all the films of the series or there was a common thread; something to add a feeling of continuity. With the American Pie flicks that is just about all there is, they are prefaced by the words, ‘American Pie Presents’. This is code for that the film so named has extremely little to do with the original trilogy. The recurring themes now consist of sex, alcohol, nudity, more sex and possibly someone in the now iconic Stifler family. The last vestige of the original three films is the character of Mr. Levenstein, dutifully played by the great comic actor Eugene Levey. He started out as the unflappable father the boy with a thing for fruit pies and now dispenses advice to each new cast of characters. The writer, Erik Lindsay also penned the previous flick in the series, ‘American Pie presents The Naked Mile’. So far these are the only two writing credits to his name. This film follows the same basic formula as before and is predicated by a few simple facts. Teenage boys have a massive increase in hormonal activity. They are driven like lemmings over the ledge to the nearest female in hopes of having sex. Unable to attract Ms. Right Now on his own the aforementioned male uses liberal quantities of ethanol to lower the inhibition of said female. In order to discourage rival males a system of practical jokes are implemented. Typical the jokes are of the scatological or homophobic nature. Mr. Lindsay’s task each year is to come up with variations on the alcohol delivery methods, the execution of the practical jokes and the general setting for the activities. Since the targeted demographic here is teenaged boys as long as there is female nudity as frequently as possible the plot is secondary. Let’s face it the cerebrums of these young men are not engaged for the duration of the flick; most of the blood has been diverted elsewhere. When an adult views this flick there are two reactions. First we try to impose mature criteria on the movie and it fails. Second we revert back to a teenaged boy and, after looking around to make sure no one is watching, laugh our butts off.
The vestigial plot consists of Erik Stifler (John White) the high school student in the last flick is now in college. Along with his friend Mike "Cooze" Coozeman (Jake Siegel) decide that freshman year requires pledging a fraternity. They choose the Beta House not only for its hedonistic reputation but it turns out that Erik’s cousin Dwight (Steve Talley) is the president of the frat. This would seem like an idea situation especially for a member of the libidinous Stifler clan but Erik falls in love with Ashley (Meghan Heffern). For some reason she doesn’t feel that letting her boyfriend carouse with over sexed frat boys is something to build a relationship on. There is a rival frat house the GEEKs, trying to get the best of the Beta House which provides the touch of impulse to the story and I use the term story in the most liberal connotation possible. The GEEKs are made up of ultra rich and powerful kids running businesses out of the frat house. With a possible record for this franchise the first shot featuring full frontal female nudity occurs at exactly four minutes in. It is also the first of many bodily fluid jokes as a naked girl gets out of the co-ed shower while Erik is taking a leak. He turns to ogle her and urinates all over Ashley’s shower caddy; double play at the top of the first inning. This is only the start as you can tell by looking at the credits. When the female roles are called things like Hot Girl #1 and Stripper, not even bothering with names, you know there will be gratuitous nudity abounding. There is also bodily fluids flying all over including an innocent but still revolting spill involving Erik and Ashley’s favorite stuffed bear. If this college actually did exist it would be closed, not by the State Board of Education but under the authority of the Center for Disease Control.
To be honest there are a few actual sweet moments. The thread with Ashley and Erik is nice and well written. The rest of the flick on the other hand is puerile and predictable. It does have to be a challenge for the writers to come up with different ways to fling seamen year after year. To their credit they do manage. Since this is Erik’s freshman year it looks like we have at least three more flicks ahead. Just so you can be prepared they appear to have release dates at the end of December, the perfect present for the sex obsessed teenage boys on your list.
Universal provides their usual excellence in the anamorphic 1.85:1 video and Dolby 5.1 audio. What make the release are the extras they include.
The final analysis is this is a flick best enjoyed by teenaged boys or men trying to go back to being teenaged boys. Do not, repeat, do not try to use this as a date movie or even let your wife or girl friend know that you have copy. So get a keg tapped, put on a toga and enjoy guys.