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American Pie Presents: the Book of Love(2009)
Rob, Nathan and Lube are three friends at Great Falls High determined to succeed in their mission of manhood and score with the ladies of their dreams. After some uproarious attempts with less than successful results, they accidentally discover a legendary guide to seduction hidden in the school library. It turns out to be a rarely-seen, often-sought manual about the secrets to sexual success, penned by some of the school's previous generations. But a few missing pages leads to hilarious surprises for everyone....including the alumni.
For more about American Pie Presents: the Book of Love and the American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray release, see American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on December 21, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Eugene Levy, Rosanna Arquette, Bug Hall, Brandon Hardesty, Beth Behrs, Melanie Papalia
Director: John Putch
» See full cast & crew
American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray Review
Proof that the once-strong series needs to be put out to pasture...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, December 21, 2009
Is it written in some sacred Hollywood tome that a successful franchise must be beaten within an inch of its life? If the stacks and stacks of direct-to-video sequels cluttering videostore shelves are any indication, the answer is a resounding and unfortunate yes. The Book of Love -- the fourth entry in the American Pie Presents series and the seventh entry in the franchise proper -- is just such a cash-in. Its return-to-the-source mentality robs it of originality, its increasingly vile gross-out gags are forced and contrived, its characters have been culled from far better comedies, and its lone saving grace, Emmy-winning funnyman Eugene Levy, barely has enough screentime to leave the mark the film so desperately needs. For fans of the first three Pie flicks like myself, it's even more disappointing. Ah well. Seventh time's the charm, right? Right?
Stop me when this starts to sound predictable. Three lovelorn high school virgins -- inadvertent YouTube sensation Rob (Bug Hall), best friend Nathan (Kevin M. Horton) and Jonah Hill blood-brother Lube (Brandon Hardesty) -- set out to lose their virginity. Their inspiration? Well, other than raging teenage hormones? A damaged bible of sorts Rob finds after accidentally setting fire to their school's library. Determined to restore the book to its original condition and decipher its invaluable secrets, they track down its author, Noah Levenstein (Eugene Levy), and embark on a quest to find the many men who contributed their wisdom to its pages. With their eyes set on self-serving glory and their hearts attached to seemingly unwinnable women, the boys issue a call to arms and begin reassembling Levenstein's bible. Of course, the outcome is never in question; only the length to which director John Putch and screenwriter David H. Steinberg will push the boundaries of taste. A ménage à trois with a peanut butter sandwich and a loyal pup, an elderly hooker dying in a most inopportune position, a rock-hard... eh, you get the picture.
Of the four entries in the American Pie Presents series, The Book of Love is by far the most reminiscent of the "official" films. But while that proves to be one of its greatest assets, it also turns out to be its greatest weakness. At times a carbon copy, at times a pale imitation, both the story and characters are familiar to a fault. Even the few elements that freshen the usual Pie-pot have been borrowed from other sources, chief among them Greg Mottola's Superbad. It's a shame too. Once Rob and his cohorts begin tracking down their high school progenitors, a development that occurs far too late in the story, the film actually builds some genuine steam. Alas, several all-too-convenient resolutions and character arcs unravel anything Levy manages to accomplish. His young co-stars are all fine actors in their own right -- a stronger script and more subdued comic stylings would have given them more chances to shine -- but their performances, courtesy of Putch and Steinberg's established tone, are too exaggerated and telegraphed to live up to those of the original trilogy stars (Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Eddie Kaye Thomas, among others).
Had the filmmakers focused on the boys' encounters with Mr. Levenstein and their hunt for the bible's contributors, Book of Love might have been a more rewarding direct-to-video comedy. However, genre junkies will recognize every scene, setup, and punchline, making the film an exercise in repetition. I'm sure anyone who enjoyed the first three American Pie Presents flicks will find the same joys and laughter here. That being said, those hoping for the return to form Putch and Universal have promised fans of the original Pie trilogy will be dissatisfied.
American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Book of Love arrives on Blu-ray with a capable 1080p/VC-1 transfer that, inherent direct-to-video shortcomings aside, looks pretty good. Skintones tend to skew yellow, but only insofar as director John Putch and DoP Ross Berryman intended. Colors are strong and stable, primaries pack solid punch, blacks are fairly well-resolved, and contrast, though lacking during several nighttime exterior shots, exceeded my admittedly meager expectations. Likewise, detail is a tad inconsistent, but satisfying on the whole. Closeups boast crisp textures, definition is sharp, and overall clarity surpasses that of other recent low-budget comedy releases. Yes, the picture is occasionally hindered by an over-processed sheen, but ringing, edge enhancement, and other major issues are nowhere to be found. If anything, faint artifacting and intermittent source noise emerge as regular (albeit relatively minor) distractions. Teetering somewhere between decent and above average, Universal's presentation is nevertheless primed to please direct-to-video junkies and longtime pie-pokers alike.
American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is just as competent. Sadly, The Book of Love's lackluster sound design is not. Intelligible, well-prioritized dialogue remains neatly nestled in the center channel, but feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the mix. A healthy dose of LFE oomph is continually undermined by inconsistency and an overbearing support for the film's bass-heavy soundtrack. Even rear speaker activity, though aggressive at times, is occasionally spoiled by haphazard accuracy, spotty acoustics, stocky pans, and overeager directional effects. Don't get me wrong, the track is fairly proficient upon initial inspection, but spend some serious time with the film and you'll uncover every dollar of its strapped budget. As it stands, Universal's technical efforts are commendable -- other studios would have simply slapped Book of Love with a standard Dolby Digital track and moved on -- but the aural experience itself is decidedly less impressive. Pie enthusiasts will quickly shrug off its lesser qualities, but more discerning listeners will find it difficult to immerse themselves in the film.
American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, the Blu-ray edition of Book of Love doesn't offer much in the way of supplemental value. While it includes two separate versions of the film -- a 92-minute rated and a 94-minute unrated cut -- it only has an hour of hit-or-miss special features, all of which are presented in lowly standard definition.
American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
As committed as Levy is to keeping the American Pie franchise afloat, it's tough to combat the law of diminishing cinematic returns. The Book of Love has some laughs, sure, but it never establishes its own identity, struggles with a thin screenplay, and rarely escapes the gravitational pull of the bargain bin. Universal's Blu-ray efforts are better, but a decent video transfer is the only highlight of a disc cursed with an underwhelming DTS-HD Master Audio track and a mediocre supplemental package. Series fanatics will probably find something to love, even if it's just Levy's late-game appearance, but everyone else should stick with a rental or steer clear altogether.
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American Pie Presents: the Book of Love Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Book of Love Heading to Blu-ray - October 26, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the direct-to-video release 'American Pie Presents: The Book of Love' to Blu-ray on December 22nd, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p VC-1 accompanied ...
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