Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Video review: "American Reunion"

Somebody's still got a jones for the horny crew from the "American Pie" franchise.

The first "Pie" movie in almost a decade -- at least one that didn't go straight to video -- barely made its $50 million budget back here in the U.S. But it hauled in another $175 million overseas to become a solid international hit.

Who knew folks in Japan and Brazil needed a fix of has-been actors eking out a few more bucks from the movie that (briefly) made them stars?

Jason Biggs, Alyson, Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Chris Klein and the rest of the gang are back for their 13th high school reunion, and dealing with unrequited dreams and lowered expectations about life.

Jim and Michelle are married with a kid, and find the steam has leaked out of their bedroom. Slick jock Oz has become a famous but vacuous TV star, while Stifler is now a rather pathetic figure still cruising for chicks and brewskies long past his expiration date.

There are a few funny riffs and tawdry sex jokes, and Eugene Levy as Jim's awkward dad is always worth a laugh. But mostly, "American Union" feels like it's cashing a check.

Say what you will about the motivations for making this movie, but the filmmakers have certainly approached the video release with gusto. Both the DVD and Blu-ray versions are loaded with extra features.

The DVD includes both the theatrical and unrated version of the film, plus seven deleted scenes, a gag reel, several making-of featurettes and a feature-length commentary track by co-director/screenwriters Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg.

Upgrade to Blu-ray, and you add 13 extended scenes and alternate takes, an interactive "yearbook" of the characters and several additional featurettes. Probably the most ambitious feature is an "Out of Control Track" in which Biggs, Scott, Hannigan and other cast members pop up onscreen with banter and even put-downs of their fellow actors.

Movie: 2 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars out of four

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