American Pie Presents Band Camp (2005)

band camp

“My mom made me learn an instrument. That’s the most annoying one I could think of.”

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

Justin’s review: Few words can send deliciously dark shivers up my spine as hearing “straight to video sequel.”  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 be a bomb. It takes the agonizing guesswork out of knowing if a movie’s going to disappoint you or not — this absolutely will, the packaging promises — and it allows you to safely disgard all standards and expectations.

Thus, we come to American Pie Presents Band Camp, the third sequel in the misguided sex ed series that started with the surprise 1999 hit. 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 hijinks, 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. It wouldn’t be an excellent flick by any imagination, but it would suffice, particularly if the characters were funny enough.

Alas, 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 he wasn’t 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. Well, at least I didn’t.

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 jerk posturing, Matt spends a bulk of the movie offending everyone. He’s sentenced to go to band camp because of a prank, so his plan is to secretly film scantily clad girls and release the movie to win his big brother’s approval (and, presumably, certain FBI watch lists). Fast forward an hour or so of nothing of consequence when 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. 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.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • American Pie
  • American Pie 2
  • American Wedding

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