Baked Goods Part 4 (American Pie Presents Band Camp, 2005)

American_Pie_Presents_Band_CampAfter American Wedding, the producers got the idea of keeping the name of American Pie out there by doing direct to video sequels.  They decided to visit the infamous Band Camp.  The tale focuses on Stifler’s little brother Matt (Tad Hilgenbrink), who like his brother is mostly referred to as Stifler, though he wants to be called the Stiffmeister, his brother’s nickname.  He is a jock, and like his brother sets out to humiliate band geeks.  His nemesis is Elyse (Arielle Kebbel).  After a prank in school gets him in major trouble, he is sentenced to Band Camp by Sherman (Chris Owen appeared in previous American Pie films as this character, and now he is a guidance counselor).

Matt tries to use this to his advantage.  His brother is apparently running a Girls Gone Wild type of business.  Matt orders all types of spy cameras to set up around the girl’s rooms and showers.  He then proceeds to mock his fellow band mates, making no effort to bond.  Of course, we all know he will start to fall for Elyse and kind of like the other kids at the camp.  Which will all come crashing down when they find out about the cameras.

The film sets up such a great fall, Matt’s attempts at redemption seem hard to accept as being effective.  The film steps up the raunch, trying to compete with other films such as the short lived Van Wilder series.  It’s female characters are all sorts of problematic.  Almost every woman in the cast is eye candy, with only Elyse and her best friend fleshed out at all.  The film flat out has adult counselors getting it on with students.  It is, of course a joke, because it is the attractive female counselors with young teen boys.  but the fact that Matt is doing something highly illegal, including filming illegal acts is troubling enough.  That the entire camp’s resolution of the issue is to shun Matt and pretend it never happened, so the camp is not totally humiliated.  So, sweep all the illegal behavior under the rug.  This is a consistent problem within the franchise.  Illegal activity is just a story or plot device to be resolved with little impact on the characters.

It really tries to have some heart, by bringing in Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy, and now referred to as Mr. Levenstein).  He is the guide to a better path for Matt, but of course, it takes the entire film to realize it.  And it just never recaptures the magic Levy brought to the role in previous installments.  The film was directed by Steve Rash, whose main claim to fame as a director is 1987’s Patrick Dempsey feature Can’t Buy Me Love.  Far from the worst, and in some ways better than the second or other later installments, the film just does not come together and the final results are pretty mediocre.  Kudos to the casting folks for finding a guy who looked like he might be related to Seann William Scott though.

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