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2.5 stars
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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
0.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent It

American Pie: The Book of Love

Street Date:
December 22nd, 2009
Reviewed by:
Nate Boss
Review Date: 1
January 7th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2009
Studio:
Universal Studios
Length:
94 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Unrated
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

It's hard to believe ten years have passed since the first 'American Pie' film was released. A fact that makes for one of those startling "damn, I must be getting old" revelations. That the series has had two sequels and four direct-to-video spin-offs only adds to the feeling. Seven films in ten years, all because one man dared to go where no man had gone before...

The newest installment in the series, 'The Book of Love,' makes no attempt to stand out with a unique story or theme. It's a bit of a rehash of the first Pie film, only with no-name-stuck-in-a-rut actors replacing up-and-comers. The situations are identical, the premise the same, only now, as is the case with so many sequels, everything is pushed to the extreme, overblown, and ridiculous.

Three high school students (Bug Hall as Rob, Kevin H. Horton as Nathan, and Brandon Hardesty as Lube) are in for a different kind of education, as a freak accident uncovers (and partially damages) the legendary Book of Love, a sex manual handed down through the years, updated with new discoveries, techniques, and advice. Just one problem, each of our heroes has his own problem dealing with the opposite sex, and it seems their (now incomplete) new found bible only exacerbates their issues. Can they turn the tide, and get with the girls of their dreams, or will fate laugh in their faces as everyone else around them gets laid instead?

The tone is set from the opening scene, with a chunky peanut butter sandwich replacing the infamous apple pie, but with far more disastrous (and predictable) results. The scene isn't gross on its own, save for the way the sandwich is handled, which is sure to ruin appetites.

The acting is fairly subpar, with few actors truly becoming their characters. If anything, it feels as though they watched the original a few times, and were told to just "do what Jim would do." The results are pathetic. Stifler (John Patrick Jordan as yet another in the sex-wild Stifler clan) is easily the biggest offender, continually mimicking the body language and dialect of the original's Seann William Scott, but with no apparent sense of humor. He misses the point of the all too familiar character entirely!

I also have to wonder how such ordinary and pathetic guys landed at this high school, one where all of the girls seem to have tramp stamps and have undergone breast augmentation. It's like something out of the 'Transformers' sequel. The only girls who aren't ridiculously stacked are those playing the love interests (basically, the only developed characters).

Sure, there are some funny moments, such as the play on "secondary virginity," ,and yes, the ante is upped, and the situations get outrageous and borderline unbelievable in an attempt to force laughter, but really who cares? No one in the cast, that's for sure! Even the extras can't seem to seemed to be coaxed into applauding their basketball team's last second win.

Sadly, the 'American Pie' name and story can't seem to be left alone, as suitor after suitor prove themselves to be the enemy. For a direct-to-video affair, 'The Book of Love' isn't the worst thing out there, but that doesn't excuse its inability (or blatant refusal) to bring something new to the table.

The Disc: Vital Stats

'American Pie Presents The Book of Love' comes to Blu-ray on a BD50 disc in a standard case (with a lightly embossed slipcover). There are numerous pre-main menu load screens (complete with status bars), but no forced trailers. These prolonged pauses are very annoying, as there's no pay off. Before the main menu, a screen will flash prompting the viewer to select the rated or unrated cut of the film.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

With an AVC MPEG-4 1080p encode at 1.78:1 lighting the way, 'American Pie Presents The Book of Love' has an actual high score in one of our scoring categories (and no, it's not out of pity). In the opening scenes, I was prepped for the worst, due to some apparent digital noise popping up in the background, while the first act of the film sported some fairly hot skin tones, but the film settles down to provide a very natural and clean quality that is much desired for the format. The grain level is incredibly light, coupled with a very deep picture, creating a (light) three dimensional feel. Delineation is solid, while blacks and whites are both natural and clean, exactly the way they should be. Detail in clothing fabrics is strong, but facial features are lacking any real character. There are some juttery camera movements that are a bit off putting, but they are few and far between. A solid release, worthy of some level of (light) praise.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

'American Pie: The Book of Love' is presented with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that failed to impress. Dialogue is prioritized properly, popping out over other sound elements, but any time a line is delivered with stress, the sound turns into a shrill mess. The fact that an entire scene is yelling makes for a very, very awkward listen in that regard. Music starts strong with a solid bass bump and rear presence, but dies down as the film goes on to a miserable bass yelp. Crowded areas are sometimes front heavy in their atmosphere, while other times nowhere near as loud in the surrounds as they appear to be. Movement is off, as is directionality, it's just awkward. For DTV fare, this release isn't that bad at all, but it leaves plenty to be desired.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 11 min) - This compilation of extras plays only as a "play all," with no individual scenes selectable. An unfortunate blumpkin, off sex advice, brotherly "love," the nastiest joke in the film, involving a used condom (which can be seen in the menu), a reference to Nadia, an explanation behind some teacher/principal tension, a roman shower, and a few other dirty scenes. Honestly, this compilation of scenes isn't bad, and makes me wonder a bit about some of the scenes left in the film. While many of these sequences seem right out of urbandictionary.com, I think they would have added some good raunch, which is what the film needed. And yes, there's plenty of cut nudity.
  • Gag Reel (SD, 4 min) - A series of flubs and mishaps. Standard stuff.
  • From the Set (SD, 19 min) - This feature, with an optional play all feature, is much like an alternate take sequence, with some very foul substitution of words. I'll never look at Toblerone the same. There are some great one liners in here, the pile of which is best left unspoiled. Needless to say, I was massively impressed and amused, as this feature showed how much fun the cast had on set, the free reign on humor and ability to ad lib, and the potential the film had. And yes, there's plenty of nudity...as is evidenced by the "naked hula hooping" segment. You read that correctly.
  • On the Set of 'American Pie Presents The Book of Love' (SD, 8 min) - Introduced by director John Putch, this feature covers the film from behind the camera, with some cast and crew interviews, and on-screen kiss logistics concerning cold sores. Not a horrible feature, but compared to the fun found in From the Set, this one is a bore.
  • Just the Tips: The Love Manual (SD, 6 min) - Hey, I think I see some innuendo there! The cast and crew give their tips to viewers. Single guys, go nuts. Attached guys, just skip it and be glad you did.
  • American Pie-cons (SD, 6 min) - A feature covering the various B (and C) celebrities who appear in the film.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are a few exclusive extras on this release, though they're hardly film related.

  • American Pie Trivia (SD, 9 min) - Kevin Horton quizzes cast and crew on 'American Pie' lore. Play along if you want, but the questions are either ridiculous and obscure, or slap you in the face obvious.
  • BD-Live - A standard portal connection with no exclusive content. That said, this portal is very well laid out, and even has sortable trailers.
  • My Scenes - Bookmark your favorite scenes, and share them with "friends."
  • Pocket Blu and Social Blu - These Universal features allow you to control the Blu-ray from your iPod Touch or iPhone, and access Facebook and Twitter. In this world where every bowel movement must be announced online, why not tell everyone what you're watching, too?!?!
  • Ticker - The main menu for 'Book of Love' has the Universal Ticker feature, which, like the Lionsgate Ticker, has adverts for other films distributed by the company.

Final Thoughts

'American Pie Presents The Book of Love' isn't a diamond in the rough, rough DTV terrain, but it's far from the worst sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a sequel out there, either. The Blu-ray release of 'Book of Love' has respectable audio and video, and a pile of extras that, at times, outshine the film they're for. This isn't one to avoid, but a blind buy is risky to say the least. Rent it.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Supplements

  • Deleted scenes
  • Gag reel
  • Featurettes

Exclusive HD Content

  • American Pie Trivia
  • BD-Live
  • My Scenes Sharing
  • My Chat

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