Given the skyrocketing costs of marketing and distributing movies to theaters and the profits to be gleaned from DVD, it's little wonder that studios are ramping up their direct-to-video divisions. DVD "premières" like the ubiquitously advertised new American Pie: Band Camp are now being marketed as aggressively as the DVDs of movies that actually went through the trouble of stinking up thousands of theaters before hitting Netflix queues and Wal-Mart shelves.
And though it shouldn't be too hard to replicate the American Pie saga's hackneyed but crowd-pleasing formula of undercutting Porky's raunch with John Hughes earnestness, Band Camp never comes close to finding that tricky, all-important balance between jizz jokes and sentiment. A far cry from even the screamingly inessential likes of American Wedding, the film feels less like a proper sequel than an indifferently realized adaptation of middling fan fiction. In an uncanny though pointless feature-length homage to Seann William Scott's star-making turn in the original American Pie, Tad Hilgenbrink stars as the absent Scott's worshipful younger brother, a belligerent, boorish horndog who is sentenced to band camp by rare returning cast member Chris Owen as punishment for his hijinks. Hilgenbrink initially views his sentence as an excuse to follow his brother into the homemade-secret-pornography business, but eventually stumbles into an incongruously chaste romance that forces him to evolve from a Seann William Scott-like braying jackass into a Jason Biggs-like softie.
Super-slumming returning cast member Eugene Levy lends a daft sweetness to his few scenes as the camp's conflict-resolution guru, but the film's stumbling attempts at "heart" feel a little ridiculous sandwiched between dick jokes, witless profanity, gratuitous nudity, and gags involving people getting their genitals stuck in novel, embarrassing places. Devoid of charm and howlingly unfunny, Band Camp is dispiriting enough in itself, but it's an even grimmer foretelling of how DVD might evolve.
Key features: Outtakes, deleted scenes, girls in bikinis.