In the comedy “American Reunion,” all the “American Pie” characters we met a little more than a decade ago are returning to East Great Falls for their high-school reunion. In one long-overdue weekend, they will discover what has changed, who hasn’t and that time and distance can’t break the bonds of friendship.
It was summer 1999 when four small-town Michigan boys began a quest to lose their virginity. In the years that have passed, Jim and Michelle married while Kevin and Vicky said goodbye. Oz and Heather grew apart, but Finch still longs for Stifler’s mom. Now these lifelong friends have come home as adults to reminisce about—and get inspired by—the hormonal teens who launched a comedy legend.
Film informationGenre: Comedy
American Reunion has a mighty big pair of shoes to fill when it comes to sequels. American Pie is kind of like the old reliable of the ‘90s teen filth-flinging comedies. We were spoiled with a brilliant movie that was able to weave lurid jokes into a storyline about people that we cared about. That is what is missing in most teen sex comedies, after all. They never allow you to care about a character enough to make it genuinely funny. American Pie was different in that they not only made you care for their young characters; they made you empathize with them. Who among us has not went to school with each of these guys and gals? American Pie made us laugh at ourselves.
Then came the sequels…
Don’t get me wrong…I enjoyed parts of American Pie 2 a great deal. The scene with Jason Biggs and the super glue will forever go down as one of the funniest moments I have witnessed on film. Still, part two was not quite as good as the first. American Wedding was even worse, and the straight to DVD sequels don’t even register on the radar. Now comes American Reunion and with it, hope… hope that the old magic could possibly be captured again.
With the general premise being promising, I figured that maybe they could recapture some of the poignancy of the original film where characterization is concerned. High school reunions have a built-in special feeling that would bode well towards that notion. All the guys and gals return to East Great Falls to celebrate the Class of 1999, so that fondness for old characters in place to start the movie.
Jim (Jason Biggs), Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Oz (Chris Klein), Heather (Mena Suvari), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols), Vicky (Tara Reid), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and of course Stifler (Sean Williams Scott) all return, as well as all the supporting characters. In fact, there are so many cameos and quick appearances throughout the movie that it becomes a bit distracting. It is almost as though they are being put in via a checklist or something rather than as a natural part of the story. Either way, the players from the first movie are all grown up and in place.
Although the crowd is all there, it kind of has that feeling one might get at the age of 50 and walking in on a teenaged party. It is simply uncomfortable in a bad kind of way. The characters are all still very young looking, but they feel as though they have no business doing the things they are doing any longer.
One of the reasons that the original was so funny was because it reminded us of ourselves or someone we knew when we were younger and our hormones were raging similarly. Now, it just comes off as older people doing inappropriate things. It simply is not very funny anymore.
Jim and his father have some excellent moments in the film and the embarrassment between the two remains hilarious. At any age, we can be embarrassed by our parents, right? Stifler remains hilarious because to be honest, we all know someone that acts like Stifler at any age. Perhaps they don’t act like he does at the same level of intensity, but we all know a Stiffmeister. Outside of those two aspects of the film, it is largely a movie that feels dated in a big way.
To be fair, the writers and directors attempt to bring the story together around the various changes in their lives. It is a feeble attempt to create characterization and recapture the beauty of the first film. The problem here though is that at the end of the day, the movie is a comedy. There is an expectation of funny that is incumbent to the American Pie movies, so dramatic interludes are not terribly fitting. The kids have grown up and gotten married, gotten girlfriends, gotten kids and done all the things they might do as adults. Now they are getting back together to reminisce and find themselves longing for the days of old. The truth is, the funny is in a different place for a movie like this than in the filth flinging American Pie type of vein. This movie could have been funny if they had chosen a path and stuck to it.
They could have made a raunchy comedy or they could have made a bittersweet comedy. Mixing the two does not work and American Reunion did not have teen hormones to fall back on as an excuse for the bad behavior like they did in American Pie.
The result is a movie that leaves you longing for the past and in the end….unsatisfied.