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Three DVDs Help Rock the Year Away

'American Pie,' 'Detroit Rock City' and 'Fast Times' go behind the over-the-top scenes.

December 30, 1999|SUSAN KING | TIMES STAFF WRITER

You can party like it's the end of 1999 with three DVDs brimming with sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Universal is releasing the R-rated and unrated versions of its big summer hit "American Pie" ($27), a naughty but funny comedy about four high school buddies who promise to lose their virginity before prom night. You'll never look at an apple pie the same way again.

The DVD features a wide-screen transfer of the farce, plus cast and filmmakers' bios, production notes, music highlights, some funny outtakes (including one especially kinky one involving Jason Biggs and the pie) and an enjoyable, definitely R-rated behind-the-scenes documentary that features interviews with the young cast, writer Adam Herz and directors Paul and Chris Weitz.

The audio commentary features the Weitzs, as well as Herz and cast members Eddie Kaye Thomas, Biggs and Seann William Scott. They are all wild and crazy guys, but it's almost impossible to figure out who is doing the talking, and most women listening to the commentary will feel like they are towels hanging around a men's locker room.

Don't look for any real insights into the making of "American Pie," unless you want to know that oatmeal is used for the vomit scenes.

*

Universal's collector's edition of the 1982 teen classic "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" ($30) is pretty gnarly fun. Amy Heckerling made her directorial debut with this nifty film, the first written by Cameron Crowe, based on his experiences of going undercover for a year at a high school. The amazing cast features Sean Penn as the ultimate surfer dude, Jeff Spiccoli; Eric Stoltz and Anthony Edwards as his buds; Phoebe Cates, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richard Romanus, Brian Backer, Judge Reinhold and even a 17-year-old Nicolas Cage.

The wide-screen edition offers musical highlights and a video map of all the hangouts of Ridgemont High (including the recently demolished Sherman Oaks Galleria and the now-defunct All-American Burger in Brentwood).

A comprehensive documentary, "Reliving Our Fast Times at Ridgemont High," features clips from the movies and current interviews with Heckerling, Penn, Stoltz, Backer, Reinhold, producer Art Linson and the casting director, Don Phillips.

Linson talks about the fact that Universal executives hated the movie and even pulled it from theaters on the East Coast because they had so little confidence in it.

Heckerling and Crowe supply the informative and entertaining audio commentary. Heckerling seems genuinely upset when Crowe tells her that the Sherman Oaks Galleria is now just a memory. Good stuff.

*

Last and definitely least is New Line's "Detroit Rock City" ($25). What's interesting about this DVD, a comedy about four teens trying to crash a KISS rock concert in 1978, is that the disc is being released before the VHS version. The video won't hit stores until Jan. 11.

This "Platinum Series" DVD is loaded with extra stuff; it's too bad the film isn't very good. One of the fun extras involves alternating camera angles of KISS' performance of "Detroit Rock City" by hitting the angle button. One can also use the angle button to toggle between footage of the four boys performing with their rock band in the movie and actual footage of them recording the song in the studio. There's also a step-by-step lesson by SongXpress on how to play the KISS classic "Rock 'n' Roll All Night" on guitar.

The disc also contains behind-the-scenes features, 15 minutes of deleted scenes, theatrical trailers, cast and crew filmographies, audio commentaries featuring the cast and the crew and director Adam Rifkin.

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