Enjoyment of this film will likely depend on whether you find these characters, 13 years on from their modest hit 'American Pie' launched in 1999, interesting enough to revisit. Let’s not forget the original film was a mostly forgettable cheesefest masquerading as lewd Porky’s-style sex-com. This film brings back all these ‘beloved’ characters for an equally cheesy, mildly funny romp, tepidly commenting on the inadequacies of mid thirties life crises.
American Reunion (2012) dir. Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Starring: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Eugene Levy, Alyson Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas
By Alan Bacchus
Really this film and the other three are only good for two or three scenes at best - the continued series of excruciatingly awkward and embarrassing situations the affable Jim Lewinstein (Biggs) finds himself in. Here, Jim is married to his sweetheart Michelle (Hannigan) but finds himself in a sexually inert relationship burdened by his status as a dad. But when he’s back in town cavorting around his old stomping grounds with his buddies, he eventually finds himself in a car with his 17 year old hot female neighbour drunk and getting naked and frisky with him. But when he crashes his car into a tree and has to sneak her into her house under cover of her parents, this is genuinely terrific sequence.
The rest of the picture goes through the motions of tracing the feelings of inadequacy of the other characters, all of whom try to project an image of success to their friends, but harbour deep regret and envy. Unfortunately the actors playing these old characters are directed to be the same caricatures as before. Fitch (Thomas) for example, still wears a scarf and talks in pseudo intellectual poetry. Oz (Klein) is a celebrity sports commentator living a shallow lifestyle with his horny girlfriend, but who still has feelings for his old flame Heather; and Kevin, (Nicholas) now bearded because he probably still looks the same as he did 13 years ago, is sadly left to share acting space with a really spaced-out Tara Reid.
Seann William Scott, the best actor of all the young cast, tries too hard to ‘be’ Stiffler, a clear indication Scott moved on from this character a long time ago – watch his brilliance in Michael Dowse’s Goon, for a strong contrast. Surprisingly John Cho (an alum of the directors’ Harold and Kumar pictures) gets some welcomed face time as the ‘milf’ guy who organizes the reunion.
Eugene Levy’s presence is never taken for granted. He’s really the co-star of these films. His awkward relationship with Jim, results in the best humour in any of these pictures. It was the reason why this franchise even exists, the titular ‘Pie’ sequence and the super awkward father-son talk afterwards, a great gag which has buoyed this franchise through four films.
But really, American Reunion barely floats. With the exception Jim and his dad, all these characters are all forgettable caricatures of the cinematic high school experience. If anything, what’s most impressive is the producer/director’s ability to convince everyone that this company of players are still relevant in the pop culture landscape.
American Reunion is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Universal Home Entertainment