Pie another day
I generally don’t like the American Pie films. I find them lazy and sloppy, with only occasional moments of genuine laughter to be had. They give R-rated comedy a bad name.
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: a predictably tired comedy where Seann William Scott (Stifler) and Eugene Levy (Jim’s Dad) are responsible for most of the laughs. Seeing the likes of Scott, Levy, Chris Klein (Oz), and, to a certain extent, Jason Biggs (Jim) together again is kind of cool. 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.
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 would get more of a charge seeing the cast of Idiocracy doing a big reunion movie rather than these guys. At least Idiocracy was really funny, and it had Terry Crews in it.
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 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. If you are a Scott fan, I would recommend watching him in his new hockey comedy Goon over any American Pie film.
Seriously, a movie where Stifler, Oz, Jim and Jim’s Dad go on a fishing trip that sees Kevin drown in the first 10 minutes would be a better movie. I like those four characters just fine. It’s the rest of them that clutter things up. I have no need for anything dealing with characters played by Natasha Lyonne and Shannon Elizabeth. They only get a scene apiece in this film, but that’s still too much.
Katrina Bowden, a Marcia Brady lookalike who’s all sorts of awesome in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, is a decent standout amongst 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 Tara Reid when it comes to acting chops.
Scott, Levy, Klein and Biggs all have a reasonable amount of talent. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing them in a different project altogether where they get to share the screen and play against type.
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 where we have to sit through lawyer meetings with Jim and Michelle or American Rehab, with extended scenes of Stifler in group therapy. Please—no more!