|American Pie Presents: Band Camp
2005 - R - 94 Mins.
|Director: Steve Rash
|Producer: Mike Elliott
|Written By: Brad Riddell
|Starring: Tad Hilgenbrink, Arielle Kebbel, Jason Earles, Eugene Levy and Matt Barr
|Review by: Bill King
|Official Site: www.americanpiemovie.com/
This one time, in Hollywood, there was this good idea by Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz and Adam Herz to make a high school movie about a group of boys and their quest to lose their virginity. Not the noblest of goals, but one that provided the backbone for a series of hilarious jokes revolving around the diverse personalities within that group. There was the shy one, the cocky one, the subdued one and the eccentric one; and on the outside was the pervert who made them feel inadequate. This provided for three films filled with laughter.
You want to play my instrument?
With the Weitz brothers and Adam Herz out of the picture, having quit while going 3-0, Universal decided to continue the series without them, and that's how 'American Pie Presents: Band Camp' came along. Now the series record is 3-1, with the possibility of going below .500 when the studio starts sucking all the life out of the American Pie name. Just to maintain a certain amount of continuity, the producers brought back Eugene Levy and Chris Owen to reprise their roles, while offering us a new cast of characters with the brother of Steve Stifler at the center of it all.
Matt Stifler (Tad Hilgenbrink) has the personality of his older brother, which becomes more annoying as the film progresses. It's worth noting that newcomer Hilgenbrink doesn't create an original character, but rather just mimics the performance of Seann William Scott.
The Shermanator (Owen) is the guidance counselor at East Great Falls High School. He sentences Matt to band camp for the summer as punishment for ruining the graduation ceremony. This proves to be a humiliating experience, but one that isn't without its advantages. In an effort to continue the Stiffmeister legend, Matt uses a variety of spying devices to capture the girls, particularly the camp counselors, on tape in hopes of making a Bandies Gone Wild video. He is not interested in helping his high school band win the competition, and often thrusts his smug personality onto everyone around him.
The band leader is Elyse (Arielle Kebbel), who tires of Matt's behavior. She tries to convince one of the head counselors, good old Jim's Dad himself (Levy), that Matt is of no use, but the wise paternal figure brushes off these incidences and tolerates these actions. He's just trying to be the same understanding man he was to his son, but Matt is not his son, and therefore doesn't deserve so much leeway.
As band camp goes on, Matt continues his recording scheme whilst ingratiating himself with the band members, in a ploy to earn some trust. It's no surprise at all that his outer shell begins to soften up a little. He even develops a slight crush on Elyse, who is so pretty that it's a wonder why Matt picked on her in the first place.
Since this is an American Pie movie, we get the usual assortment of gross-out gags, but none of them are inspired, and one even had me gagging. Most of the attempts at humor stem from Matt's smirk and his penchant for profanity. Putting someone like Matt Stifler at the heart of a movie was a calculated risk, and one that doesn't pay off. In the previous movies, Steve Stifler's outgoing nature was complemented by more grounded characters who by 'American Wedding' had matured somewhat since their high school days. Not so in 'Band Camp.' None of Matt's "friends" are memorable in any way. They are placeholders designed to be at the receiving end of Matt's insults. The only exception is Elyse, who is granted more depth and better dialogue at the screenplay level.
Just when the movie couldn't get more contrived, it does so by offering up an ending that is so saccharine that I just shook my head in disappointment. The original trilogy of films allowed us to revisit some goofy characters as if they were old friends, and we could just drop in on them to check on their progress. In 'Band Camp,' there is no such desire to do that. If any future film with a connection to 'American Pie' ever emerges, I hope it's a spin-off that features Elyse (with Arielle Kebbel playing her) at the center, as she was the only character who seemed genuinely real.