Joke’s on us

Franchise tosses another half-baked pie at the screen

Still wanking after all these years.

Still wanking after all these years.

Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott and Eugene Levy. Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.
Rated 2.0

American Reunion brings the gang back together 13 years after the so-so first film, and nine years after the totally abysmal American Wedding. I actually had big hopes for this one because it is directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, writers on the Harold & Kumar series and directors of Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (the weakest of that series, but still funny in a spotty sort of way).

The result here is a predictably tired comedy where Seann William Scott (Stifler) and Eugene Levy (Jim’s Dad) are responsible for most of the laughs.

There are lots of slo-mo, Michael Bay-esque shots of the boys walking together throughout the film, like we’re supposed to get some sort of real charge out of this band of actors getting back together. I suppose seeing the likes of Scott, Levy, Chris Klein (Oz), and, to a certain extent, Jason Biggs (Jim) together again is kind of cool. But having to sit through line readings by Thomas Ian Nicholas (Kevin), Alyson Hannigan (Michelle), Tara Reid (Vicky) and Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch)—not so much.

The plot involves everybody coming home for their 13th high school reunion, with a major “Jim and Michelle ain’t having sex no more” subplot. Oz has become a bubble-headed sportscaster, Finch a world traveler, Jim a sex-starved new dad and Kevin a homebody husband with a new beard. (His beard is one of the better running jokes in the movie.) They all want to party and hang out like old times, while excluding Stifler because he’s still nuts. He, of course, finds his way into the mayhem.

That mayhem includes the requisite gross-out gags like Stifler shitting into a beer cooler and Jim’s Dad revealing embarrassing sexual details to his son. In one of the film’s funnier sequences, Jim’s Dad has a rendezvous with Stifler’s Mom (Jennifer Coolidge). Again, Levy is the man, and he makes his moments work.

Scott’s Stifler has mellowed a bit. He has minimized that annoying laugh he does, which is a good thing.

Seriously, a movie where the guys go on a fishing trip that sees Kevin drown in the first 10 minutes would be a better movie. I like the Stifler, Oz, Jim and Jim’s Dad characters just fine. It’s the rest of the cast that clutters things up.

Katrina Bowden, a Marcia Brady lookalike who’s all sorts of awesome in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, is a decent standout among the newcomers as Mia, Oz’s supermodel girlfriend. She plays a ditz and she plays it well. (She’s also freaking Meryl Streep next to Reid when it comes to acting chops.)

American Reunion has its moments, and is at least the second best film in the series after the original. I just fear the next film will be something like American Divorce or American Rehab, with extended scenes of Stifler in group therapy. Please—no more!