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Blu-ray Review American Reunion Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Kevin EK

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American Reunion has made its debut on Blu-ray with a minimum of fanfare.  Likely the final sequel in the theatrical and direct-to-video series about young and attractive people doing really inappropriate things with themselves and each other, the movie gets a decent treatment on Blu-ray with an edition that will likely please fans of the franchise.   The rest of us may not find much to cheer about here, but the new disc does sport good video and sound and a generous collection of extras for anyone who really was waiting for this movie.  Of course, the history of DVD releases in this series does give one pause – one has to wonder how long it will be before the next edition of this movie on disc…



AMERICAN REUNION


Studio: Universal/Relativity Media/Practical Pictures/Zide Pictures

Year: 2012

Length: 1 hr 53 mins (R-Rated),  1 hr 54 mins (Unrated)

Genre:  Comedy/Sex/Pranks/More Sex/Humiliation


Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

BD Resolution and Codec: 1080p, (AVC @ 20 mbps)

Audio:  English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.5 mbps, up to 4.2 mbps), Spanish DTS 5.1, French DTS 5.1, English DVS 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

 

Film Rating: R (Crude and Sexual Content Throughout, Nudity, Language, Brief Drug Use and Teen Drinking, Repeated Humiliation of Jason Biggs)


Release Date: July 10, 2012


Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Sean William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy


Written and Directed by: Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg


Film Rating: 1 ½/5


American Reunion is a real head-scratcher when you get down to it.  Was anyone out there really waiting for this movie to come out in theaters or on video?  It’s not like there haven’t been two other theatrical sequels and a whole pile of DTV releases to boot.  And it’s not like there is a complex story trying to be told here.  The new movie essentially acts as a direct sequel to the first American Pie, bringing back the entire young ensemble from that film and bringing back two of the key parent characters as well.  The simple story updates the original notion of high school teens trying any and all means to get laid, with the concept of the same characters returning to their hometown for a 10-year plus high school reunion and revisiting many of their old ideas.  As is customary for these films, the movie provides multiple opportunities for lead character Jim (Jason Biggs) to be stripped naked and humiliated, and various humiliations for nearly all of the other characters, male and female alike.  As a further nod to what the original film has wrought, the movie also includes one thoroughly gratuitous bit of gross-out “humor” that will complete the turn-off for anyone not a heavily invested fan.  One supposes that an interesting story MIGHT have been told here, but the characters are simply too paper-thin, and the performances here have the uncomfortable edginess of thirty-somethings trying their hardest to act like teenagers again, in spite of the obvious fact that they’re all too old to be playing these games.  It’s possible that fans of the original movie may enjoy some of the material or the opportunity to visit with the characters again.  The movie’s new writer-director duo (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, veterans of four Harold & Kumar movies) certainly try to play many scenes with an eye to the first film’s staging and/or plot.  (An early scene with Jason Biggs and Eugene Levy is staged to mirror a scene from the first film, and several plot points answer leftover business going back 13 years…)  It’s also possible that fans of Jason Biggs will enjoy seeing him go through the motions here again.  But it’s also possible that even fans of the movie series will find this to be one too many trips to the well.


American Reunion was released on Blu-ray and standard definition last week. The DVD and the Blu-ray share some special features, but the Blu-ray has many more as exclusives.  Of course, the Blu-ray release comes with both discs. Instructions for downloading a digital copy and getting an Ultraviolet copy are also included in the package.   As I noted before, watch out with this series for any double-dipping.  The earlier three films had a rich history of multiple DVD releases, far beyond what anyone would consider possible for the limited range of these movies.  And that’s not even getting into the DTV releases that featured Eugene Levy…


VIDEO QUALITY  4/5


American Reunion is presented in a 1080p AVC 1.85:1 transfer that nicely presents a variety of environments and flesh tones with accuracy and detail.  And given that there’s plenty of naked flesh on display here, there are plenty of opportunities for flesh tones.  The Atlanta locations are nicely presented both by day and night.  On a technical level, this is a good-looking Blu-ray. 



AUDIO QUALITY  4/5


American Reunion is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, as well as standard DTS mixes in Spanish and French.  Most of the mix lives in the front channels, but the surrounds and subwoofer are frequently brought into use for the songs and music that are heard during the movie.  As a bizarre choice, the disc also holds an English DVS track.  I really have to ask WHY anyone would want to listen to a description of the activities in this movie for nearly two hours.  Nine out of ten times in the movie, the situations are gross-out sight gags.  Trying to spend minutes describing them really defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?  This is not to belittle the concept of DVS tracks, which are quite useful for other movies.  But this film?  Really?


SPECIAL FEATURES   3/5


The Blu-ray presentation of American Reunion comes packed with special features, including deleted and extended scenes, alternate takes, a gag reel, a pop-up actor “cut-up” presentation of the movie, a series of short featurettes and a commentary.  There’s also instructions inside the package for downloading a digital copy or accessing an Ultraviolet copy.  And of course, the DVD is included to boot.  The DVD holds less of the special features, but it does have the commentary and a fair amount of material itself.  


Both the Blu-ray and the DVD contain both the theatrical R-rated cut, and an unrated cut that runs one minute longer.  Really dedicated fans can watch the longer cut and decide if there is really that much more material to justify the marketing.


My Scenes – The usual Blu-ray bookmarking feature is available here, allowing the viewer to set their own bookmarks throughout the film.


BD-Live - This Blu-ray includes access to Universal’s BD-Live online site, allowing for the viewing of trailers online.  


pocket BLU – This Blu-ray includes the usual pocket BLU functionality, enabling viewers with appropriate laptop, iPad or smart phone integration to remotely control their Blu-ray player and access some of the bonus content from the separate device.  Also, a digital copy is available for download via the pocket BLU application.


Feature Commentary with Writer/Directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This scene-specific commentary has the Harold & Kumar veterans talking through the movie and giving the usual shout-outs and compliments to their cast and crew.  They joke about the budget being limited, which may not be that far from the truth, even with the publicized numbers of around 50 million dollars.  Given the cost of reassembling the cast and making the obligatory payments to the multiple producers of the original film, it’s not a surprise that the movie wound up being shot in Atlanta rather than in Los Angeles or even in Michigan, where it ostensibly takes place.


The following materials are presented in high definition on the Blu-ray.  If they are also available on the DVD, they would obviously be presented in standard definition there:


Deleted Scenes (7:51, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – Seven deleted and unnecessary scenes are included here.


Extended Scenes  (26:25, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – Thirteen extended versions of scenes are presented here, usually including additional gags or gag lines.


Alternate Takes (3:52, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – A few minutes of alternate ad-libs and gag lines are included here, in a kind of abbreviated version of the Line-O-Rama usually included on the  Apatow production releases.


Gag Reel (3:42, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – The usual blown takes and silly moments on set are presented here.


The “Out of Control” Track (1 hr 53 mins), 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This is a presentation of the movie with a twist.  At various moments, the cast of the movie “pops up” to make comments about the onscreen gag, the characters or the cast member in the crosshairs.  It’s a bit strange, but one supposes that fans of the cast will enjoy this.


The “Reunion” Reunion: Re-Launching the Series (10:32, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON DVD & BLU-RAY) – This short featurette covers the basics of the making of the film, starting with the cast and original film producer Chris Moore offering compliments to the new writer/director team.  (Of course, while it’s a bit of a shock seeing Moore 10 years after the infamous “Project Greenlight” shows, one can’t help but be disappointed that we don’t get to see him berating the filmmakers here or better yet, going after Jeff Balis...).


The Best of Biggs:  Hangin’ With Jason B. (3:37, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This quick featurette really just shows a few clips of Jason Biggs goofing off on set, along with the expected compliments from his co-stars.


Lake Bake (4:31, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO  BLU-RAY) – This short featurette focuses on the shooting done at the lake location in Georgia, and the various shenanigans happening there both in front of and behind the cameras.


Dancing With the Oz (2:50, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This quick featurette addresses the reality TV show where Oz (Chris Klein) tries to do hip-hop dance.  I put a real emphasis on the word “”tries” here.


American Go-Nadiators:  The Fight Scene (4:13, 1080p) (EXCLUSIVE TO BLU-RAY) – This featurette deals with the movie’s big fight scene, which takes place outside the requisite Stifler party, between the thirty-something cast and the teenagers now taking their old places in their hometown.  There is one funny moment early in the featurette, where the directors admit that when they scripted this fight scene, they only wrote a couple of lines of general description – and then were faced with actually having to figure out what they would be staging and shooting with a full cast and stunt team.


Jim’s Dad (2:47, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This featurette focuses on Eugene Levy’s return to the role of Jim’s father Noah.  There’s some discussion about him bringing in the signature eyeglasses from the first film to re-use as a prop.


Ouch! My Balls! (1:47, 1080p) (AVAILABLE BOTH ON BLU-RAY AND DVD) – This is really two minutes of watching the various cast members hit each other in the crotch – with the usual target being Jason Biggs.  This is included on the Blu-ray because it’s apparently really, really funny.


DVD Copy – A second disc is included in the package, holding the standard DVD of the theatrical cut of the movie.  It contains the movie presented in standard definition in an anamorphic 1.85:1 picture with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English, Spanish and French (448 kbps) as well as the English DVS track.   The materials indicated above are included – essentially the commentary, the deleted scenes, the gag reel and three of the featurettes.  The DVD also has a “Previews” menu, which allows the viewer to individually or collectively play the trailers for The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Role Models, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To The  Greek, Bridesmaids, Couples Retreat and Accepted.  If you were unfamiliar with the last film on that list, please be thankful.  I turned on the trailer out of curiosity and then found myself desperately trying to get back to the main menu.


Digital and Ultraviolet Copies – Instructions are included in the packaging for downloading a digital copy of the movie to your laptop or portable device, as well as for obtaining an Ultraviolet streaming copy to be placed up in the cloud.  The instructions include a deadline of April 30, 2015 for activation.  I note again that the pocket BLU online menu also includes an option for downloading the digital copy.  I also note this is a much longer timeframe than we usually see for these digital copies.  Which raises a bit of suspicion on my part that perhaps we’ll be seeing that inevitable double-dip in summer 2015…?


Subtitles are available for the film and the special features, in English, Spanish and French. A full chapter menu is available for the film.


IN THE END...


American Reunion is the kind of film that you’ll either already be ready to enjoy or you probably will never want to sit through.  Given its slow nature, I also have to wonder whether that many fans of the original will really want to see all the characters more than ten years later still acting like teenagers.  The Blu-ray at least presents the movie in the best possible light with solid picture and sound, and a generous raft of extras for fans of the series.  But I really have to hope that the film’s marketing, which promised they’d “Save(d) the Best Piece for Last” is telling the truth.  How much more of this Pie can America really stomach?


Kevin Koster

July 21, 2012.

Equipment now in use in this Home Theater:


Panasonic 65” VT30 Plasma 3D HDTV – set at “THX” picture mode

Denon AVR-3311Cl Receiver

Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray Player

PS3 Player (used for calculation of bitrates for picture and sound)

5 Mirage Speakers (Front Left/Center/Right, Surround Back Left/Right)

2 Sony Speakers (Surround Left/Right – middle of room)

Martin Logan Dynamo 700 Subwoofer

 

Adam Gregorich

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Thanks Kevin. My take on the movie is they are pretty faithful to the original series. If you liked prior American Pie movies you will like this one. If you didn't you won't like this one either.
 

TravisR

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Adam Gregorich said:
My take on the movie is they are pretty faithful to the original series.  If you liked prior American Pie movies you will like this one.  If you didn't you won't like this one either.
Yeah. I hadn't seen the American Pie movies in years but it was still fun to see all of the characters again.
 

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