[Review] – American Reunion

16 Apr

Title: American Reunion
Year: 2012
Directors: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Writers: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, based on the characters by Adam Herz
Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nichols, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Tara Reid, Mena Suvari, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, John Cho, Katrina Bowden, Dania Ramirez
MPAA Rating: R, crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking
Runtime: 113 min
IMDb Rating: 7.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Metacritic: 50

The American Pie films actually hold some kind of meaning for me, and even though not one of the three we’ve gotten can classify as masterpieces or anything close, they’re ones I’ll actually gladly rewatch anytime I catch them on TV, and if I’ve followed the careers of any of its stars since the films came out it’s just because of how much I loved these characters. And so, as a fan of the franchise, I was really looking forward to American Reunion, which had all the cast back together again for the first time since American Wedding hit theaters in 2003.

How did American Reunion turn out, then? Well, for non-fans of the franchise I’m guessing this film won’t be all that great to watch, not even close. Because, if you watch it objectively, it’s very easy to see that the film does pretty nothing of interest with these characters, and that even the jokes aren’t going down they way they used to. And yes, that might be true, but for fans of the franchise the fact that these characters are here alone is more than enough, who cares what they’re doing. American Reunion is a nostalgia trip for that seminal late-nineties teen comedy film, and, as such, I think it’s triumph; it’s just a pity that it wasn’t much more and didn’t turn out to be a truly great comedy.

The premise for getting all these guys together again revolves around the characters’ having to return to East Great Falls for their high-school reunion. So that’s the weekend we’ll spend with them here, and during which we’ll get to see who and what has or hasn’t changed with time, and of course get a nice little reminder that time and distance can’t break the bond of true friendship. Because, when it’s all said and done, that’s what the American Pie films are truly all about, and the reason why people all over the world have really connected to them beyond the hilarity of their R-rated escapades; these films have a sweetness to their raunch, and once you add the whole nostalgia effect of this one, the effect of that sweetness is only multiplied.

This film marks the reunion of these characters, but it also marks our own reunion as audiences with them, and we can look back at the fun times we had with them when were kids; which is why I think people like me, who were fans of the originals when they were entering, in the midst of, or just leaving their teenage years, will get such a kick out of this one. And it is great catching up with them: Jason Biggs‘ Jim and Alyson Hannigan‘s Michelle are still married, with a two-year-old son and a crappy sex life; Chris Klein actually delivers a pretty good performance as Oz, who’s working as an NFL expert for a sports channel married with a character played by the gorgeous Katrina Bowden; Thomas Ian Nichols‘ Kevin is married too, and works as an architect from home; Eddie Kaye Thomas‘ Finch says he’s developed a pretty wild lifestyle; and Seann William Scott‘s Stifler works as a temp at an investment firm, though he’s still pretty much the Stifmeister we all know and love.

Stifler is pretty much the only one who hasn’t really changed all that much, though. He’s still living in the past, and so to some extent is his mother. And while the rest of the gang love him as a friend, they’re not really on the same page as he’s in now. He tries to throw a party like the ones he threw back in the day but he’s pretty much the only one treating it as such. Well, he and Jim’s dad, who’s now a widower and gets it on with Stifler’s mom, who finally goes for an age-appropriate target this time around.

American Reunion is all about reminiscing about the old days, about the fun we had as children, the whole shindig having a kind of a déjà vu feeling to it. But it’s all so great to us as fans of the film, not only because while the film acknowledges that it also acknowledges that you can still be immature when you’re old, but because we get to reconnect with these characters. We see a married, thirty-something year-old Jim getting tempted by the little girl whom he used to babysit who’s now eighteen; Stifler lying about liking Twilight to get with girls; Oz reconnecting with Mena Suvari‘s Heather; and Kevin reconnecting with Tara Reid‘s Vicky.

Of course the film has more than a few jokes to go along with all the nostalgia. And even though some of them don’t really work, this franchise is still all about crossing lines to get laughs, and when the jokes do work, mostly when they’re provided by Stifler, they’ll actually be good for some really big laughs. Again, I don’t know if this one works as a stand-alone film, and maybe the uninitiated will feel out of the loop and not care for this one at all; but for those of us who love the original films, this will be a really fun trip down memory lane with some of our old friends.

Grade: B+

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