Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie…
The H-Bomb: In case the title is not enough of an indicator, the American Pie gang is back, descending on their home town of Great Falls for their thirteen year high school reunion… why thirteen? Because no one from their school bothered to organize a ten year reunion (that’s literally what we’re told). So what has everyone been up to since American Wedding? Well, Oz (Chris Klein) is now a big shot sportscaster and a former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is now a happily married housewife. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has turned himself into a regular Renaissance Man, traveling the world to experience many exotic cultures firsthand. Stifler (Seann William Scott) is slaving away in a demeaning job as an office temp and is just as big an asshole as ever.
As for Jim (Jason Biggs), he is still married to ex-band geek Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), and they now have a two year old son as well as some… intimacy issues. They realize that their sex life is not as healthy as it should be when they both experience a bad case of Masturbatus Interuptis during the opening scene. This of course, is the first of many sexually humiliating situations that Jim will find himself in, which have been a staple of this series. In one of these scenarios, we even get to see Jim’s manhood, which has been the victim of much abuse over the course of four movies. In addition to all this, he is still getting unwanted sex advice from his well intentioned Dad (Eugene Levy), who is now a widower.
Jim’s friends have it a little easier, as both Oz and Kevin have to deal with seeing their old high school sweethearts, Heather (Mena Suvari) and Vicky (Tara Reid), for the first time in years. Some half-baked drama ensues from this, but not many laughs. Finch seems to finally be over Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge), and has taken a liking to a hot bartender who happens to be a fellow classmate. Stifler has never quite moved on from high school and just wants to party like it’s 1999 (literally).
I really love the original American Pie. It was raunchy as hell, but it was also genuinely funny, with real heart behind it, and strong characters who, despite being sex obsessed, were very likeable and relatable. Then came American Pie 2, which I didn’t like at all. The raunch was there, but the charm was gone, as were the laughs. American Wedding followed, and while it was a definite improvement over the second movie, it didn’t even come close to touching the original.
Now we have, whether we wanted it or not, American Reunion, arriving some nine years after the last one (I don’t count the slew of straight to DVD “sequels” in between). This movie reminds me a lot of Scre4m, which came out a year ago this month. Both came after their franchises had been dormant for a decade, both try to milk their brand names for all their worth, both attempt to recapture, with a hint of desperation, the magic that made their originals so great… and both are pretty underwhelming.
While I found American Reunion watchable, curiously enough I didn’t laugh out loud once, though I did smile a number times, mainly from the antics of Stifler and Jim’s Dad; the party scenes where they drink and spend quality time together are the best in the movie. Everything else involving the rest of the cast is pretty limp. Kevin is worried about cheating on his wife with Vicky, Oz finds he still has feelings for Heather, even though he’s dating a supermodel. All this drama just didn’t interest me, and the film just got boring during these parts.
Even the eccentric Finch, who has always been my favorite character in this series, is just kind of dull here. The movie seems to put all it’s comedic chips into Stifler’s mugging and Jim’s sexual mishaps, which just aren’t enough. None of them are as memorable as the pie fucking from the first movie, and they just reek of too much effort, like, again, showing Jim’s dick on camera, or putting him in a gimp outfit. One sequence has Jim trying to sneak the girl he used to baby sit for, who is drunk and naked, back into her house without her parents noticing. This girl conveniently just turned eighteen that night, so we don’t have to feel creepy about looking at her, but we do anyway. It’s a sequence that goes on too long and isn’t all that funny, the same could be said for the whole film. For the most part, the raunchiness seems toned down from the outrageousness of the past movies, and not for the better.
On the plus side, just about everyone is back, even the ones who missed Jim’s wedding. It’s nice seeing all these people again, even those who only pop in for a scene or two. Shannon Elizabeth gets to use her laughably awful Russian accent again, and John Cho shows up from time to time as the Asian MILF Guy, though now he’s apparently gay, without any rhyme or reason or explanation whatsoever. Seeing all these people in the same movie again do give me a sense of nostalgia, kind of like the one I got while watching Scre4m.
Nostalgia, sadly, is basically all American Reunion has to offer. No real laughs, no interesting updates on the characters, just trading on the fond memories of the original. I used to hate Stifler, but this time he, along with Jim’s Dad, are the only ones keeping this overlong, badly paced party from turning into a total bore. Even the songs on the soundtrack try to remind us of that earlier, better film. If anything, that’s the one thing that American Reunion succeeded in doing, making me want to revisit the original, and that is exactly what I suggest you do. This is one Reunion you can miss.