Directed by: Steve Rash
Written by: Brad Riddell
Starring: Tad Hilgenbrinck, Arielle Kebbel, Jason Earles, Crystle Lightning, Jun Hee Lee, Chris Owen, Eugene Levy
The original American Pie set a touchstone for what teen comedies could be as we entered a new century and for all of its issues, it still has some charm attached to it. The same could not be said for many of the follow-ups that tried the same type of jokes but to lesser results each time that they attempted it. Band Camp begins the painful decline of this “franchise” and embodies the idea that watching this film as an adult will give you quite a headache.
Trying to live up to the family name, Matt Stifler (Tad Hilgenbrinck) receives the educational sanction of having to attend band camp. While he hates the assignment placed on him, he learns about the opportunity to impress his older brother by secretly recording the sexual indiscretions of the “band geeks.”
Films like these have rightfully made their way out of popular culture because they have shown that crassness to this degree and the lack of an actual story should not be a priority. To have full disclosure, I initially watched this series of films when I was an adolescent and found the humor to be funny because the comedy obviously had its sights on making my demographic laugh. As it came around to review this film for my site, I felt that I needed to go back and watch it again to ensure that I did not have rose-colored sentimentality for the films I enjoyed when younger. I quickly learned that it was a huge mistake to do so. As I watched every low-hanging fruit joke whiff, I was embarrassed that I ever enjoyed this film.
Not only because the jokes just go for the same formula of including the penis in some way, but the character of Matt Stifler has truly not aged well at all. The Stifler character may have been one that could make us laugh in the early 2000s, but his schtick wears out incredibly quick today. One can only hear the same dick joke so many times before asking if the writers put together the script by channeling what they said to each other in middle school.
That ultimately shows how these films should be viewed if anyone were to subject themselves to them. It might work for you if you’re a teenage boy and make terrible jokes. Now, I am not against bad jokes, but my brand at least tries to be “dad joke” level bad. It has some integrity to it. The same could not be said for Band Camp.
The plot follows this competition between high schools and Stifler has to help his school and the folks he sees as band geeks. He learns that the only way he will be able to videotape them doing “freaky” stuff will come from gaining their trust. That’s when the audience should start to warm up to him but his actions inexplicably continue to show his destructive behavior in the process and again it makes me think of what the writers were thinking when putting together this unfortunate production. Then with the help of another geek who has control of a remote-controlled robot, Stifler sneaks around and records the band geeks getting wild. Let’s look past the fact that this is all child pornography considering they’re all high schoolers (the film does not show any of these characters nude) but it violates their trust. The rest of the film plays out exactly how one would expect with the redemption that needs to happen but I find it hard to believe that Stifler’s apology comes close to excusing his atrocious behavior, but what can you do?
Even with limited screen time Eugene Levy pulls this terrible mess of a film up a bit. Just using his facial expressions demonstrated more comedic wit than any sentence this script had to offer. His continued presence in all of the other films does all of the heavy lifting. It would have helped if they even tried, but they could even do that. I won’t fault the actors because they tried their best with the putrid material they had to read.
Band Camp should never be something someone revisits unless you want to look yourself in the mirror and question why you could ever like something like this. Its crassness doesn’t really take any chances except the easy jokes. Seriously, I would sit there and predict what the joke would be before they even said it because it became that predictable. Simply take the words someone said and tie into something about a penis. It became quite the exercise after a while because it just kept happening. Don’t let Band Camp do that you, please. I watched it again so you never have to.