Dania Ramirez – American Reunion (DVD)

July 8, 2012 by  
Filed under Chaléwood, Interviews

In “American Reunion,” the fourth theatrical installment of the “American Pie” series, actress Dania Ramirez (TV’s “Entourage”) joins the cast as Selena, a former band geek who has matured into a very attractive young woman over the years. While everyone is back in town for their class reunion, Selena takes a liking to Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) who she remembers as a very nice guy in high school.

During an interview with me last week, Ramirez, 32, talked about her own high school experience, having movie sex in a bathroom stall with actor Eddie Kaye Thomas, and how her natural athleticism helped her for her next movie “Premium Rush.”

What was it like to be one of the newest members of the “American Pie” franchise?

It was really cool because I was a fan of the first movie. That was back when I was just getting into acting myself. I grew up watching these characters, so I felt like I was sort of in their world and already their friend even though I wasn’t. (Laughs) It was very surreal. It was really interesting being on the set and listening to all the others tell stories about making these movies. It was really cool to come in and play a really cool character. [Selena] has a very down-to-earth attitude. She is comfortable in her own skin, something she wasn’t at one point in her life.

What crowds did you run with in high school?

My own high school experience was more of a discovery of myself. Eventually, I ended up with, I guess, the cool crew. I played volleyball and basketball, so I ended up with the athletes. But I came to the U.S. when I was 10 from the Dominican Republic. I didn’t speak the language or know the style. I had been in the Dominican Republic running around like a tomboy, climbing trees, and playing baseball with the boys. When I came here, I acted more like a lady so I could fit into this new American world. I had to figure out my way and try to get along with these people. By the end of my high school career, I had become friends with everybody – the cool group, the nerd group, whatever those labels are.

Did you get the opportunity to experience your own high school reunion?

No, I didn’t. I was working at the time. My parents had kicked me out when I was 15 because I wanted to act. Straight out of high school I went to college and studied communications. Any time I had off, I was just working. I was living in Los Angeles, so I didn’t even find out about my high school reunion. (Laughs) Nobody told me.

You’re the love interest of Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) in this movie. Other than with Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge), Finch hasn’t really been lucky with the ladies in the last three movies. Were you confident you could match the sexual connection Eddie Kaye Thomas had with actress Jennifer Coolidge?

Listen, I’m an island girl. If you don’t have sexual connection with me, then I don’t know what’s wrong. (Laughs) I was pretty confident.

Well, it looks like it. Even though we didn’t get to see it in the theatrical release, there is a sex scene with you and Eddie in a bathroom stall that makes it to the Deleted Scenes section of the DVD/Blu-ray. Was it a challenge to do that scene with all the splashing that was going on?

Oh, that was fun to shoot. You saw it. We were having a freakin’ ball. That’s what’s cool about getting the DVD. You can see all these hidden moments. You already had your laughs at the theater, but there are always more laughs that didn’t really coincide with the storyline. There are a lot of characters in this movie and we shot a lot of stuff. We improvised a lot. Even in that particular scene we just kept going. (Laughs) The directors just let us do what we wanted to do.

Yeah, I don’t think Finch had as much fun the last time we saw him on a toilet in the original movie.

When he was taking a shit? (Laughs) Yeah, he was tortured. That was one of my favorite parts of the first movie. I think it’s good that he ended up on the toilet bowl again 12 years later doing something completely different.

Which of the guys in the “American Pie” franchise would you have been most attracted to in high school? Has your taste changed over the years?

My taste is all over the place. I think I would pick John Cho (MILF Guy #2) because he’s hilarious. I like people who can make me laugh. My favorite line in the movie is when we’re at the party and the big fight breaks out and Jim (Jason Biggs) is getting beat on by the other guys and John Cho says out of nowhere, “Don’t be a pussy, Jim. Don’t be a pussy.” That made me laugh.

You’ve only been in a couple of comedies in your career. So, what makes you laugh? What kind of comedy do you like?

I like “The Office”-type comedy. What makes me laugh are real situations. I think life is funny. Sometimes people take things too seriously. It’s fun to exaggerate things.

Another special feature on the DVD is behind-the-scenes footage of all the main actors playing this ongoing game where they hit each other in the nuts. Were you able to get in a good shot on any of them?

Aw, no, I don’t want to hit anybody in the nuts. That hurts. (Laughs) That’s more of a guy thing. They might want to do something with their package later. I didn’t want to do any damage.

You’ll be staring in “Premium Rush” with Joseph Gordon-Levitt in August. Did your natural athleticism help you with your role as a bike messenger? It looks like a pretty physical role.

Yeah, I think when you’re athletic and you get those kinds of roles you’re really grateful. There is something about being an athlete that you can’t fake. It allows you not to depend so much on other people. I did a lot of the bike riding. Don’t get me wrong, I had stunt doubles. There were certain things I was not going to do.

You’ve also been signed on for a new TV series called “Devious Maids,” which comes from the creator of “Desperate Housewives.” What do you tell critics out there who say a show like this depicts Latinas as a stereotype?

I think we’re beginning to have a bigger voice as Latinas. We should try to support all Latino content so we can have an even bigger voice. This is a show where we have four Latinas as the first four leading characters. I think that is amazing within itself. I’m working on producing a show with Wilmer Valderrama, but if I don’t have a voice then things like that can’t happen. People need to see the show before they decide if they like it or not.

Chris Klein – American Reunion (DVD)

July 7, 2012 by  
Filed under Interviews

Best known for playing clueless high school student council president hopeful Paul Metzler in director Alexander Payne’s 1999 dark comedy “Election” and for his role as hopelessly romantic jock Oz Ostreicher in the “American Pie” franchise, actor Chris Klein admits he doesn’t know what the future holds but looks forward to whatever comes his way.

During an interview with me last week, Klein talked about the DVD/Blu-ray release of “American Reunion,” the fourth theatrical film in the Pie series, and his supporting role on the TV show Wilfred about a guy (Elijah Wood) who sees his neighbor’s dog as a man (Jason Gann) in a dog costume.

When you read the script for “American Reunion,” what were your initial thoughts on where your character ends up 13 years after graduating from high school?

I thought it was really cool. I actually knew what was going to happen before I saw the script. I sat down with [directors] Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg just to talk about where they were in the process. That’s when they pitched me that idea, which I thought was just perfect because Oz has loved sports since he was a kid. To grow up and carry that forward is pretty cool. Personally, I am a big fan of the zany sportscasters. I grew up in a sports generation of the 90s so just listening to those guys like Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick was great. To bring my own to the big screen was a real joy.

Do you think high school reunions serve a purpose today, especially since we can keep up with all our old high school friends on Facebook?

That’s a really interesting question. I do think that there still is a place in our society for reunions. To have an opportunity to see someone in the flesh and to look them in the eye, that’s a personal experience. I believe those experiences are important. For our world and “American Reunion,” it’s crucial. Back in the late 90s when we made the first “American Pie,” we played our age which is pretty rare in Hollywood. So to come back a decade later and revisit these characters was just a heck of a lot of fun. Let’s face it, if the audience wasn’t having fun watching these movies we wouldn’t be making them.

Where do you see Oz in 30 years? Would you come back for a fifth movie? Maybe it can be called “American Retirement.”

That is a beautiful question, man. (Laughs) It’s one that crosses my mind from time to time. I don’t know where Oz is 30 years from now like I don’t know where you or I will be 30 years from now. If the first 33 years of my life has taught me anything it’s not to speculate and to keep expectations at a minimum and roll with the punches and stay in the present. As far as Oz in retirement, I think he is a guy who will find happiness and will follow his heart but not to the detriment of his well-being. He’s a guy that makes smart choices. As far as me being a part of another “American Pie” movie, those questions are way, way, way above my pay grade, my friend. Even being a part of three movies under this banner, I still need an invitation to these parties.

So you admit that you do not have a Eugene Levy fast pass?

I absolutely admit that I do not have Eugene Levy fast pass. As a matter fact, I can admit that Eugene Levy would say he doesn’t have a Eugene Levy fast pass to the “American Pie” franchise.

Congratulations on the work you’re doing on “Wilfred” as well. You have a dog yourself. Do you ever have any existential conversations with him?

I got to tell you, I sure do. Thanks for mentioning “Wilfred” by the way. I love working with Jason Gann and Elijah Wood. When I found the Australian version on YouTube I thought to myself that Jason really captured what it’s like to be a dog because I often find myself sitting there and looking at the Chief – my dog’s name is Chief – and knowing if he could talk we could have some really cool conversations. In terms of what goes on around here, I think he’s got a pretty heady opinion about it.

What would Chief say about you as an owner?

Oh man. (Laughs) You’d have to ask him. I think we get along really well. I love being a dog owner. I’ve always grown up with dogs, particularly German shepherds. I’m really grateful that he’s in my life because I’m definitely a dog man.

“Election” is easily one of my favorite comedies of all time. What would a high school reunion look like for Paul Metzler and Tracy Flick?

What a cool question! What a unique question! I’m not sure. I think about Paul Metzler a whole bunch because that character is very near and dear to my heart. Gosh, I really don’t know. I’d really have to sit down and think about that. But I’m sure if it was Alexander Payne building an “Election” reunion, he would come up with a genius script as always.

American Reunion

April 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Alyson Hannigan
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (“Harold & Kumar” series)
Written by: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (“Harold & Kumar” series)

Slice it any way you want: “American Reunion,” the fourth theatrical installment of the “American Pie” film franchise, is the same expected dish that’s been served to moviegoers for years. There’s no whip cream dollop or vanilla ice cream scoop or streusel topping to sweeten the deal. The sequel does, however, feature the entire original cast for the first time since 1999, which proves valuable for those fans who enjoy nostalgia and want to see the series wrap up fittingly. Unless there’s a compelling reason to shoot a fifth movie and call it “American Funeral,” “Reunion” should satisfy that expectation.

Ignore the fact that the characters are rallying together for their 13-year reunion (“they missed the 10-year by a couple” is the unconvincing reason given about why they didn’t get together in 2009) – the crop of sexually charged, baby-faced teens from the ’90s are all grown up with real responsibilities. With the exception of everyone’s favorite douchebag Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott), the gang has also become a lot more mature. Besides keeping the baked good safe from penetration, this little leap into adulthood turns Reunion, even more than 2003’s “American Wedding,” into the Stifler Show.

Scott, who along with actor John Cho (“Star Trek”) has had the most successful career of all the cast members post-“Pie”, owns his character, which is probably why a majority of the jokes and gags involve him in some smutty way. Stifler hasn’t evolved much, and no one wants him to. All will be right with the raunchy-comedy world if at the age of 80 Stifler has advanced into the dirty-old-man stage.

There are plenty of other mainstays to consider if searching for more thoughtful character development, like lovable loser Jim (Jason Biggs), who is trying to be a respectable husband and father, and Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy), who is now a widow. It’s a sentimental departure by directors/writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (the “Harold & Kumar” trilogy) that occasionally works well when combined with some funny memories and set pieces from the kids’ high school days.

But again, it’s the scene-stealing Stifler who commands the screen for better or worse. No matter how old he gets, he’s exudes the frat boy variety of misogynistic tendencies, which don’t seem to bother anyone since he’s such a moron. Lose him, and there would be no reason for this franchise to exist. What would Tara Reid do then?