More the celluloid equivalent of fluffing than an actual movie, J.B. Rogers’s absurdly pro forma American Pie 2 defies categorization. Is it a harmless time-drain or an unwitting exposé of the flailing, fractured state of American male heterosexuality? A winking ode to horny youth or a pathetic middle-aged paean to coitus interruptus? Lame sequel or premature remake? It’s all of these and less, and not a single pastry was harmed in its making. This follow-up to the feel-icky smash of 1999 has everything you’d expect: desperate references to the first movie (you know—the funny one), further public sexual humiliation, dumb-guy hijinx that tread the line between homophobic and homoerotic, and enough buildups to unrealized fuck scenes to pad a dozen porn videos.
The film chronicles the post-freshman-year activities of American Pie‘s band of teen onanists. Stranded in Michigan for the summer—who wouldn’t jerk off?—the fellas, led by Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), and the psychotic Stifler (Seann William Scott), rent a beach house by “the lake” (a subdued Pacific Ocean turning in the film’s most nuanced performance) and party like it’s 1989. It’s the sort of gathering that would make any sane woman flee the state, but plenty of babes show up anyway, including some from the first installment. Mena Suvari wisely phones in most of her lines, while Alyson Hannigan (as Jim’s nympho-nerd love interest) exhibits something like comic timing. The retrograde audacity that made American Pie passably entertaining feels routine here, and Rogers’s feeble attempt to ape the Farrellys’ gross/sad/funny dialectic falls flat. American Pie 2 hardly works up a decent belly laugh before its characters are happily pairing off with whomever they desire most. The film is like skipping the orgasm and going straight for the cigarette.
At 48 minutes, Hiroyuki Kitakubo’s Blood: The Last Vampire barely gets between the sheets. With its dour insularity and clingy fidelity to realism, this overhyped slashfest fails to rise above the extravagant pointlessness that plagues inferior anime. The film cobbles together bits from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Alien, and The X-Files (in lugubrious conspiracy-theory mode) with the sole purpose of supporting dully repetitive shots of scowling she-waifs and torrential arterial spray. Saya (voiced by Youki Kudoh, from Snow Falling on Cedars), a sort of sword-packing Powerpuff Girl, is employed by “the organization” to rid mid-’60s Japan of a race of demonic vampires. The twist is that she’s a vampire herself—the “last of the originals,” as her Spiro Agnew-esque keeper calls her. Pity the same can’t be said of the plot. Saya is sent to the Yokota American military base to ferret out the remaining bloodsuckers, where she inexplicably teams up with a whiny school nurse who looks and behaves like Shelley Winters. Limbs are hacked, an air force garage blows up, and the movie screeches to a halt. (The upcoming DVD release includes a “making-of” doc that lasts nearly as long as the film itself.) Blood‘s single claim to originality lies in the use of CGI backdrops for its pen-and-ink animated characters. But while the effect is eye-catching, the sub-adolescent story line renders any innovation all but moot.