Directors: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Writers: Adam Herz, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge
Cinematography: Daryn Okada
Back in 1999, when the first American Pie movie was released, I was a little young to be watching R rated movies. My parents were a little more lenient than the MPAA, but they still had a few rules about watching sex and drugs on the big screen. So it wasn’t until I hit high school that I was allowed to watch any of the franchise, which is really the perfect point in life to watch them. By that time the first three theater released movies (American Pie, American Pie 2, and American Wedding) and a couple of the straight to DVD sequels were available for me and my friends to enjoy. I’m proud to say that I’ve seen all of them, even if some of them are pretty forgettable. So when American Reunion was released I planned a trip with my old friends, not really knowing what to expect. The series hasn’t really aged well especially considering the direct to DVD stuff.
The original movie is about four high school guys making a pact to lose their virginity before prom. We’ve followed Jim, Kevin, Finch, Oz and Stifler through the summer after college and a wedding, laughing at the ridiculous situations they always seem to get in. The other four sequels that weren’t in theaters follow Stifler’s family members through their own high school and college experiences. While they have some funny moments in them, the other sequels are direct to video for a reason. So American Reunion has a lot of work to do to get us back in the spirit of the original. With a comedy franchise, it is easy to fall into the same gag to get laughs and after a while it gets old. Considering all the characters have now gotten old(er), it would be easy for this movie to fall into a rut. So did the high school reunion prove to be a lame party or a reason to look back with fondness?
Somehow, the people casting this movie were able to get everyone back from the original film. And I do mean EVERYONE, you’ll even recognize the random bit players. I think it’s impressive because most of the lead cast went on to bigger and better things. Jason Biggs has become a romantic comedy staple as the nice guy, Seann William Scott is in some of my favorite comedies (Evolution, Dude Where’s My Car), and Tara Reid was a hot drunk mess in Taradise. Alyson Hannigan was already one of my favorite actresses (before she went to band camp she was Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and she seems to have done the best with her hit show How I Met Your Mother. Shannon Elizabeth shows up with her fake foreign accent. And even the MILF guy (who happens to be John Cho from Star Trek and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) makes an appearance. It makes a powerful statement that everyone wanted to come back, and I think it makes the movie better to see the old familiar faces.
The Timely Story
One of the things I enjoyed is how the characters have grown throughout the years. It seems like there is someone in the movie that everyone who watched the original years ago can relate to. If you’re a married couple having trouble keeping a sex life going after kids, Jim and Michelle’s problems make sense to you. If you’re a happily married man who is forced to watch chick shows like The Bachelor, then you feel Kevin’s pain. If you have a friend that has all their shit together and is an annoyingly interesting world traveler than you know a Finch. The person that is closest to my situation happens to be Stifler. He’s stuck in a dead end job while avoiding real responsibility, and his friends are the most important things in his life. What keeps us laughing is the fact that we can relate to their current situations, and still shake our heads at how silly it all is.
The only one of the cast that has been in all 8 of the American Pie movies also has some of the funniest scenes in the new film. He’s great at playing Jim’s awkward Dad, who feels it’s his duty to give his son sex advice even when it’s a bit of an over share. But this time around he’s not just the mentor, Mr. Levenstein is a widower looking for a new way to happiness. He seems to find that by acting a bit like an irresponsible teenager. I may have been a little more aware of Eugene Levy than usual because I just watched Splash for the first time in years (he’s the crazy scientist who keeps trying to out the mermaid). But he’s definitely awesome in this movie. When the credits first start to roll, stay seated for an extra little scene between Jim’s Dad and Stifler’s Mom that will definitely make sure you leave the theater with a smile on your face.
It’s something I don’t normally notice, but this movie has some great music. Every song you loved from the 90′s will be playing in the background at the reunion. It’s perfect for the fans who grew up in that era and it fits the mood. I still listen to a lot of that stuff so it was awesome to hear it in the movie. I mean when was the last time you listened to Verve Pipe’s “The Freshmen”? It’s just one of many great hits that make an appearance.
It’s Not the Comedy for the Average High Schooler
I suppose this is sort of a given, but not everyone will enjoy this movie the same way I did. It seems like you have to be a certain age in order to appreciate a high school reunion. With the characters all grown up, those people that are new to the franchise probably won’t be as excited to watch people above their age bracket. While I myself have never been to a reunion, I’m at a time in my life where I’m supposed to grow up and figure out my life. If you’re a high school kid, like the characters in the original movie, then you’re no where near that point. You’ll be able to laugh at some of the movie, but it definitely doesn’t have the same impact if you’re in the younger generation. My advice if you’re a teenager looking for a good comedy? Check out American Pie and wait a few years to watch American Reunion.
Overall: 4 stars out of 5
For me, it’s a little hard to critique a comedy movie. Unless the film is absolutely terrible, there’s not a lot you can get mad about while laughing. As long as I leave the theater smiling, I’m not going to have much of a problem with whatever happened on the screen. And American Reunion definitely delivered on that front. Does it have some of the same gross out gags that have appeared throughout the franchise? Yes it does. Are there moments that are cheesy and heartfelt at the same time? You betcha. Are you going to laugh your ass off and want to re-watch the entire series? I know I did. It’s a great movie to see with a beer in your hand and your friends beside you. Just be sure the theater you see it in has cup holders. You don’t want to hold a full beer while laughing because it’s a good way to get foamy alcohol all over your shirt. And you probably don’t want a wet t-shirt during American Reunion. Stifler may be up on the big screen, but I’m sure he could find a way to give you shit about it.