American Pie Presents Band Camp [Retro Review]

“What if I took his beanie and put it on my…weenie?”

The Scoop: 2005 R, directed by Steve Rash and starring Tad Hilgenbrink, Jason Earles and Arielle Kebbel

Tagline: This One Time at Band Camp…

Summary Capsule: Stifler’s younger bro takes center stage at a very unfunny summer camp

Justin’s Rating: Has it really been THAT long since American Pie 1? I’m so ooooooold…

Justin’s Review: Few words can send welcome, pleasureful shivers up my spine as hearing “straight to video sequel”. Oooh. Stop it. You’re a BAD boy.

So while there is never any 100% guarantee that a particular movie is going to be a smash success, “straight to video sequel” is a virtual 100% guarantee it’s going to suck. It takes the agonizing guesswork out of knowing if a movie’s going to bomb or not, and allows you to safely disgard all standards and expectations. If it’s going to suck, and you know that for a fact, how can you possibly be disappointed?

Plus, and this is important, it’s an official suck. Part of the genuine franchise, it’s ensured a place at the franchise dinner table for all time, no matter how unwelcome.

Thus, we come to American Pie: Band Camp, the third sequel in the “teenagers so horny” series that dared to use bodily secretions unlike any film series prior. While the cast was hemorrhaging regulars by the time American Wedding (an underrated flick, in my opinion) released to theaters, Band Camp witnesses pretty much everybody jumping ship, except for cameos by Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy) and the Sherminator (Chris Owen).

Call me crazy, but they actually had a sliver of a good idea to place the setting of the film at the infamous band camp briefly seen in American Pie 2. It’s a perfect place to get a fresh batch of likable teens, throw in the requisite sex stuff and funny pranks, and have some sort of big competition at the end between the good band geeks and the bad band geeks. A rated-R Meatballs, with Jim’s Dad as a counselor. I like it. It good. It pleases The Justin. It wouldn’t be an excellent flick by any imagination, but it would suffice, particularly if the characters were funny enough.

But, aggravatingly enough, they couldn’t just stop there. For some reason, Hollywood execs got it into their dense, prehensile skulls that Steve Stifler was the one and only reason anyone saw the American Pie flicks. And they couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, Stifler was amusing in a crass, carefree way — much like Jay in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — but that’s not the heart or soul of the series. For me, what brought the American Pies out of the gutter was its strangely sentimental, sweet, dorky teenagers who, in their bumbling ways, hopefully discovered the truth that sex isn’t the be-all, end-all of relationships. Real love is a strong undercurrent of the trilogy, and it makes the ridiculous situations actually more funny because we care about the characters.

Repeat: we did not really care that much about Steve Stifler.

It’s with regret that I must inform you that Band Camp is overwhelmingly preoccupied with carrying on the Stifler tradition, by making Steve’s younger brother Matt the main… well, not hero, so we’ll go with “protagonist” here. Mimicking all of Steve’s trademark potty mouth and jackhole attitudes, Matt spends a bulk of the movie being a jerk in some way, shape or form. He’s sentenced to go to band camp because of a prank, so he decides to secretly film the nubile coeds and release the movie to win his big brother’s approval. Fast forward an hour or so… naked breasts… sex jokes… weenies getting caught in stuff… lame pranks… and then we arrive at a point where the movie suddenly wants us to care about Matt. Why? Seriously, why?

Just because a character is the main, billing star, doesn’t automatically make everything they do or say sympathetic or admirable. Matt, to put it frankly, is a bully. He’s a creepy voyeur who betrays all of his new-found “friends” during the course of the movie. And yet we’re supposed to actually care about his change of heart by the movie’s end and be impressed with the newer, softer side of Matt. Hi. I don’t think so.

As I said before, without Matt this could’ve been an affably interesting movie. Cheap production values and all, but easy to swallow. With Matt, it’s a grating experience to get through each scene and still find life worth living. You failed, movie people. Go clean out your locker and get out of here.

My mind is processing an awful lot of pink here.

Intermission!

  •  Matt Stifler was played by Eli Marienthal in American Pie 2
  • The “oboe” used in the movie is actually a cor anglais.
  • Beanies. Not cool.
  • Tad Hilgenbrink really bared it all in the scene where he undresses in front of the girls while playing the trivia game. He didn’t inform the girls in advance, who were expecting him to keep his privates covered somehow, so their reaction is quite genuine.

Groovy Quotes

Elyse: I’m so drunk right now… I’m probably gonna forget about you… porkin’ an oboe!

Matt: What if I took his beanie and put it on my… weenie?

Matt: I’ll have you giving Chloe the pelvic noogie inside a week.

[Matt plays the bagpipe]
Ernie: Are you really Scottish?
Matt: F**k no! My mom made me learn an instrument; that’s the most annoying one I could think of.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • American Pie
  • American Pie 2
  • American Wedding
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