Capitalizing on the success of the American Pie trilogy, American Pie Band Camp is the first spin-off from the American Pie series. While Band Camp makes light references to previously established characters (including a role reprisal by Eugene Levy as Jim’s dad) the film doesn’t have much in common with its 3 predecessors besides sharing the ‘American Pie’ banner flag.
Following on his older brother’s legacy Matt Stifler (Tad Hilgenbrink) is forced into going to Tall Oaks band camp by Sherman (Chris Owen) for ruining the school graduation ceremony – or risk expulsion. While he doesn’t associate himself with his band classmates, he goes to Tall Oaks with the intention of befriending them for his own agenda. To film them in compromising situations and report the tape to his brother. In hopes of joining him in his adult film career. From here the film throws out a large amount of genre clichés although it does contain some of the raunchy humor that the series is known for.
The main problem American Pie Band Camp faces is that the viewers are not attached to the characters and instead of playing out with sentiment like its predecessors it goes out fast with over the top characters (Tad Hilgenbrink’s first scene as Stifler is particularly cringe worthy) and it hits hard with gross out humor to try and please the crowd. As such instead of being smart, like-able and somewhat relate-able to the audience (as the original did) the film comes across as a little corny with some very loose references to try and make the audience believe this is a part of the American Pie universe they love.
While that makes it sound awful American Pie Band Camp is not all that bad. It is an enjoyable experience with lots of laughs and crude humor. The cringe-worthy sections of the movie are quickly passed in the first few moments and what follows is funny stand-alone comedy. The Unrated US version also includes a scene missing from any cut seen in the UK where Matt has a small dream sequence while in the bathroom which added to the over-arching joke.
Levy’s role as Jim’s dad is effective as always though he has little screen time to impact on the film overall. His character shines through with every scene he is in as he delivers his lines to perfection. From the new cast Arielle Kebbel is brilliant as Elyse , Matt’s love interest and balance to his crazy ways. The two have great on-screen chemistry and if the producers had banked on starting a spin-off series from this film they would make a great new center piece to build upon and start a series based on the next generation of East Great Falls teenagers.
Overall though American Pie Band Camp is enjoyable enough and a lot of fun in its own way. The film certainly isn’t as a strong as previous American Pie titles. While really it shouldn’t even be judged with the American Pie series, it is hard not to when the name and references are clearly planted as cash grab.