American Pie 4: Band Camp (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
It was only six years ago that the American Pie series debuted and it doesn't seem fully exhausted yet. The last film still had some excellent moments. It just seems too soon to be using this franchise as a vehicle to add a brand name to some otherwise generic stories. Here's the recipe: take any script for a gross-out teen comedy; make the lead character Stifler's brother; hire an actor to impersonate Stifler's mannerisms; write in some tenuous connections to the original trilogy; spend as little money as possible. Voila! Instant video sequel with instant name recognition.
They've already taken the franchise to the "Porky's Sequel" stage of development.
In addition to the Stifler family name, there is a threefold attempt to connect this film to the originals. (1) The story takes place this one time, at band camp. (2) The movie features a cameo from The Sherminator, the king of the geeks in the first two films, who is now a high school guidance counselor. (3) The story also works in Eugene Levy as Jim's dad, whose presence in the plot really can't be justified by any reasonable explanation. Levy's familiar, avuncular countenance was needed for the ads and the DVD cover, so the scriptwriter devised a convoluted rationalization for his presence. It seems that the Alyson Hannigan character was selected to be the camp's conflict resolution officer because of her lofty status in the band camp pantheon. She could not take the job because of a pregnancy, so her father-in-law (Jim's dad), always eager to help out and now a lonely guy with an empty nest, volunteered to fill in.
Yes, I know it's lame.
The actual plot ain't so hot either.
Stifler's brother revels in the Stifler family reputation. He's a junior in high school now, and even a bigger asswipe than Steve. When he gets caught destroying the graduation ceremony for the seniors, he is offered an alternative: expulsion or behavior modification treatment. Once he chooses the latter, his guidance counselor (The Sherminator) ships him off for a summer with the band geeks.
Once he resigns himself to his penance, Stifler the Younger begins the summer by maintaining his condescension toward the band geeks, and even stocks up on hidden cameras so he can film their most embarrassing moments and share the videos with the cool crowd back in school. Of course, since this is an American Pie movie (of sorts), the Stifmeister is gradually won over by the sincerity of the nice girl from his school, and he finds that the band geeks are actually kind of fun to hang with. His heart seems to enlarge several sizes, ala the Grinch, until some in-crowd cheerleaders from his school show up at band camp to co-ordinate their dancing routines with the marching band, at which point Stifler reverts to his obnoxious mode, insisting to the cheerleaders that he's just spying on the poor unfortunate geeks so he can make his hidden camera video. Needless to say, the geeks overhear.
The big finale at band camp is a competition between the participating high schools. The nice girl from Stifler's school needs to win so she can get a coveted music scholarship, but her main competitor is the usual "snooty rich kid who will stop at nothing to win." I suppose that somewhere back in the first draft of this script, the story was about some other kind of summer camp, and the band concept was shoehorned into it later - and rather clumsily at that. I say that because the band camp kids were battling for a musical scholarship, and one of the events in the competition involved playing volleyball in soap suds. That sounded illogical to me. Of course, I turned out to be wrong. As it turns out, behavioral scientists have determined that an aptitude for sudsball is almost an infallible predictor of an aptitude for musical composition. Wolfgang Amadeus "The Suds Wolf" Mozart was the Austrian champion in sudsball. In fact, he had gone through his entire life undefeated until Salieri poisoned his Gatorade before a key 2-on-2 match which pitted Mozart and Gluck against Haydn and Salieri for the championship of the Habsburg Empire.
Oh, yeah, the movie ...
Will Stifler deliberately humiliate the geeks from his own school in order to impress his cool friends, or will he follow his heart and try to help his homies defeat Mr. Snooty? I'll just bet you can guess. Actually, you'd be wrong, but only slightly. He does try to follow his heart, but screws up and causes his school and the nice girl to be humiliated. Then he has to stage a really elaborate scheme to atone for his insensitive bungling, thus following the trail blazed by his brother in American Wedding.
The film generates some laughter, but there is nothing very creative or very compelling, and it all seems like stale material culled from earlier "coming of age" films. There is the usual collection of Pie antics involving bodily fluids and parts, but it all seems tired this time around. At various times, musical instruments are sprayed with various different fluids and used in various sexual situations. There are jokes involving feces, semen, and vomit. Somehow the writers forgot urine, pus, and menstrual blood. Perhaps those were held back for American Pie 5.
It's a shame that the people who own the rights to this material chose to follow the "Stifler's brother" detour instead of staying on the main route. Michelle and Jim are married, but they are not dead, and none of the other characters have closed storylines. Perhaps they have all moved to different cities and rarely come into contact, in which case the series could have had them meet at a tenth high school reunion. One of the most interesting parts of life is to meet people years after high school and see how much, or how little, they have changed. Or how about showing Finch's adult life with Stifler's mom? Anything like that would have been more fun and more appropriate than taking a generic script and cobbling it enough to fit under the American Pie banner.
NOTES on the "unrated" DVD:
I haven't seen the rated version, but I have read all of the available comments, and I've concluded that the extra eight minutes on the unrated version consist of the following:
1. The unrated version shows the counselors doing their jiggle act in the shower, whereas the rated version had pulled the camera away just as it was about to reveal anything. There is very little lower body exposure.
2. There is an extra scene on the unrated DVD which involves two naked girls in the camp bathroom. The they are discussing the other characters, but I simply don't know who these girls are supposed to be. I couldn't relate their characters to any other scenes, and I couldn't find those two actresses in the credits.
The extra features on the DVD (listed below) do not include any nudity at all.
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