Seriously, why isn't Eugene Levy being given an exec producer credit in these films already? After having to appear in five of these films, the talented comedian deserves something. "Beta House" is the sixth (!) "American Pie" film and, much like the "Bring It On" films, I can't say anyone probably ever guessed that either franchise would make it to a fifth effort.
While the direct-to-video sequels haven't been as funny as the second or third films in the trilogy, they've been at least a little better than one might expect from the third, fourth and fifth sequels of a teen sex comedy. The sixth time around sees Erik Stiffler (John White) heading off to college in order to meet up with Dwight Stiffler (Steve Talley), his older cousin and head of the wildest frat on campus. So, Erik and pals Bobby (Nic Nac) and Cooze (Jake Siegel) try to get into the frat by completing a series of raunchy tasks.
There's also the matter of a rich, preppy frat that wants to see Stiffler's flat put out of business for good. Erik also falls for Ashley (Meghan Heffern), a sweet girl he gets into a few embarassing situations with. Of course, since this is an "American Pie" movie, she doesn't care about any of that, and the two meet cute in the co-ed showers at their dorm. The film leads towards the Greek Olympiad, where Stiffler's frat goes up against the Geek House in events like bra unsnapping.
Whereas the picture doesn't have much of a script, I have to say that it at least doesn't shy away from R-rated humor - the film is much raunchier than any of the past "Pie" films, as well as containing more nudity than any of the prior flicks. Does that make it a good movie? Not really, but at least it lives up to its billing.
As for the performnaces, Talley continues to make a surprisingly decent replacement-of-sorts for Seann William Scott and the supporting performances aren't half bad. The film also manages to figure out how to shoehorn Levy's character into the movie, as well. There's a few laughs here-and-there throughout the picture, which is satisfied to go along with largely the same formula as the prior films have gone with. It's predictable and uneven, but for those who are going to want to see this anyway, at least it ups the raunch factor rather significantly over the prior films.
VIDEO: "American Pie: Beta House" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality was quite nice, as the picture looked consistently crisp and well-defined, even in some of the darker interiors. While some slight edge enhancement and artifacting were noticed in a few scenes, neither issue was much of a distraction. Colors remained bright and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is just fine for this sort of material, using the surrounds nicely to deliver ambience during the party scenes, but otherwise remaining a front-heavy mix. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and bassy, punchy music.
EXTRAS: "Nuts About Pie" featurette, Eugene Levy interview, bloopers, "Boobie Yule Log" (don't ask), deleted scenes and deleted storylines, "Behind the Games" featurette, cast and crew commentary, "30 Rock" episode (I'm sure Tina Fey is thrilled), music videos, "Foxy Fan on Set" and PSA.
Final Thoughts: There's a few laughs here-and-there throughout "Beta House", which is satisfied to go along with largely the same formula as the prior films have gone with. It's predictable and uneven, but for those who are going to want to see this anyway, at least they'll be happy it ups the raunch factor rather significantly over the prior films. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality, as well as a good deal of supplements. A rental for fans of the series.
The Film C