Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Sean William Scott, Mena Suvari,
Eddie Kaye Thomas, John Cho, Jennifer Coolidge, Eugene Levy
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
While not the same age as the characters, I grew up watching the “American Pie” cast grow up from senior prom to college to marriage and now the high school reunion. I can honestly say that I wasn’t too concerned about the future of Jim and the gang and needed to see what they have been up to. Unfortunately I did, and one thing it does capture correctly is being reunited with people from high school that you would have been better off never running into again.
Jim, Finch, Oz, Kevin and Stifler (Jason Biggs, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas and Sean William Scott) are all stuck in ruts in their early 30’s adult lives and decide to get the old gang back together for their 13 year old reunion (according to the film, the school couldn’t get their shit together and missed the 10 year. (*cue eye roll*) Yes, Yes I’ll admit it, I laughed myself silly watching “American Pie 2” and “American Wedding” in High School even though I didn’t particularly care for the original although I understood it’s cultural impact. It was a teen movie for a new generation of teenagers. Then I grew up and while I can still appreciate the childish gross-out humor I like to think my standards got a little higher which is less than I can say for the cast of “American Reunion” who is nearly all accounted for from the original “American Pie,” which begged me to wonder if they were all loyal to their characters or just in desperate need of some work.
I like think that underneath all the gross out gags and frat boy humor, the “American Pie” franchise still had a beating heart underneath with a message in each film about adolescence and growing up. The original was leaving high school and going to college, the second was the stress of facing adulthood after college, and the third was finally getting married and being an adult. Now that the trilogy wrapped up all we are left with is 30 something year old men who still act like high school boys and have seemingly never grown up which makes for more of a depressing study of middle aged men than a laugh out loud raunchy comedy. Moments that could have been more acceptable in the college and high school years like vandalizing and destroying young kid’s jet skis and partying with drunken half naked 18 year old girls now seem creepy and criminal than amusing. Besides many of the actors just phoning in their performances it doesn’t help that the screenplay by the “Harold and Kumar” scribes who also direct, give the main characters sitcom cliches to deal with that never make the rise above it’s juvenile roots and instead revert them back. Jim has a wife and child but him and his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are both sexually frustrated after not having sex after the birth of their child. Stifler is stuck in a dead-end temp job working for an asshole nerd that is the type of person Stifler would pick on in High school, Oz is a sports show host who had an embarrassing run on a dancing with the stars type TV show, Kevin has an extremely hot wife but is reduced to being a housewife, and Finch returns home after supposedly being on a globe trotting adventure. Of course the series veteran,(including the direct-to-video sequels) Eugene Levy returns as Jim’s Dad featuring what could have been a mature step for the series in that his character is now dealing with his wife’s death, but is just as an excuse for Levy to meet Stifler’s Mom.
It sounds like I am being incredibly harsh on the movie but for a series that rejuvenated the R-Rated teen comedy, this film is a complete waste of time and effort and feels like nothing more than a cash-in by all the original stars. The jokes and gross-out gags no longer feel fresh or shocking. Like I mentioned before the cast is reduced to nothing but sitcom problems that are dealt with for the entire film and feel like they could be resolved in one simple conversation. Characters like Oz and Kevin are faced with prospects of their old high school flames and act completely immature and end up looking like complete tools instead of the once likable more moral characters of the original. An extremely awkward encounter of Thomas Ian Nicholas and his ex-love Tara Reid once again does the exact same storyline as the sequels where Kevin’s character immaturely can’t move on from Vicky and ends up accepting their friendship just like the previous films and ends with an extremely strange friendship between him, his wife, and Tara Reid. All the characters magically solve their relationship problems in the same sitcom eye-rolling fashion that shows that a troubled relationship or marriage just needs some sex or a brief conversation to miraculously solve all their problems like for Jim and Michelle whose bigger problem should be that they seemingly neglect and ignore their son in favor of being sexual deviants. Sean William Scott’s Stifler has long been a staple of the franchise but to seem him coast on his douche-bag personality and be in his 30’s, single, living at home and working a temp job should be more of a red flag and sign of an intervention from his friends. I would have actually believed or enjoyed it more if somehow Stifler had risen through the ranks to be a top snarky CEO than a depressing man-child.
Unlike the recent “21 Jump Street” which cleverly showed how older 20-somethings deal with being adults and how the high school that had carved their personalities has drastically changed in 2012, it’s more of the copy and paste bullshit that adds nothing new and doesn’t have any intention of going any deeper than dick and seamen jokes. What could have been a nice balance of raunchy comedy and drama of characters we know and love realizing that they are adult males in life crises would have been a far more satisfying movie. It’s a reunion that was completely unnecessary and seeing how they missed the 10 year made it less exciting than probably your own high school reunion. It is most interesting than a comedy that defined a generation has sunk so low into safe, childish, antics that we could care less about what was happening in the lives of the original cast. I am officially done with the franchise until they try a little harder, maybe something like “American Funeral.” All I know is that while I watched this in the theater, a man sat in front of me and every couple of minutes for the entire film, tried to open a message on Facebook on his phone but couldn’t due to poor reception. What was in that message he so desperately sought was more interesting and entertaining to me than a majority of “American Reunion.”
“Let’s get the hell out of this movie.”