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American Reunion (A Movie Review)

American Reunion

American Reunion


Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kay Thomas, Eugene Levy, Jennifer Coolidge, Ali Cobrin, Dania Ramirez, Katrina Bowden, Jay Harrington, John Cho, Natasha Lyonne, Shannon Elizabeth, Chris Owen, Vik Sahay, Molly Cheek, Chad Ochocinco, Neil Patrick Harris and Rebecca De Mornay.

Screenplay by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.

Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  113 minutes.  Rated R.

There have already been three American Pie movies in just over 12 years – seven if you count the straight-to-video American Pie Presents… series.  And, if you are honest, only the first one could be considered to be a very good movie.

It begs the question, does the world need another American Pie movie?  Do we all need to be reunited with a series that never really totally went away?

Turns out, the answer is “hell, yes!”

American Reunion is the best film with released under the American Pie banner since the first one – by a good measure.  It’s not as good as the first, but it’s heads and shoulders over American Pie 2 and American Wedding.  It’s not even in the same universe with the made-for-video series.  All of these movies had some moments, but mostly they were stupid, cheesy sexploitation.

Those attributes are all here, too, after all this is an American Pie movie.  Even the first had that.  However, American Reunion also pulls off the trick of being surprisingly heartfelt.  Just like the original film, real characters and real emotions are experienced by the characters.

Oh sure, there are still the share of cheap gross-out jokes – mostly (and unsurprisingly) delivered by Seann William Scott’s Stifler.  But they are not as blatant about the exploitation.  Unlike the last several movies, there are no gratuitous scenes of top-heavy strippers or whirring sex toys shoe-horned into the plot.  In fact there is only one naked woman in this film and – shocker – her nudity is actually plot-driven.

It seems for the most part the American Pie group has grown up.  Who’d have thought?

Interestingly, just by being itself, American Reunion also becomes probably the first nineties nostalgia comedy.  (It was only a matter of time, these things tend to go in 20 year increments.)

On the plus side, this is the first film which has the entire original cast since American Pie 2 (2001).  About half of the cast was jettisoned for American Wedding (2003) because of contract disputes – so in that way, Reunion lives up to its name.

The storyline is simple enough.  The whole gang – who have mostly lost touch with each other – go home for their high school reunion.  (The fact that it’s been thirteen years since their graduation is acknowledged in a throw-away line, though it is never exactly explained why they are having the reunion now.)

Jim and Michelle (Jason Biggs and Alyson Hannigan) are new parents and are finding their sex lives are suffering.  Oz (Chris Klein) is a TV sports analyst with a vapid model girlfriend (Katrina Bowman of 30 Rock), but who still has feelings for Heather (Mena Suvari), who is also involved.  Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is living a life of mystery, telling tales of world-wide adventure.  Kevin (Thomas Ian Black) is settled into domestic happiness with his wife, but surprised to find himself still attracted to his ex Vicky (Tara Reid).

And Stifler is… well, Stifler.

It is often forgotten that Stifler was a very small part in the original film, eventually turning into the “breakout” character in the sequels, but here he is tempered again.  He works better as a contributing factor than as the center of all craziness.

American Reunion is one hell of a lot better than I expected from this series at this point in history.  In fact, if only American Pie and American Reunion were ever made, this would have been a hell of a series.  As it is, it is an okay series with some damn good bookends.  Let’s just hope they don’t give in to the urge – hinted at in the last scene here – to keep going back to the well.  American Reunion has the feel of a good closing.  I’m hoping they will stick by the movie poster tagline: “Save the best piece for last.”  We don’t really need to see these characters again for at least another decade – if ever again – but I’m glad they are back for now.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2012 All rights reserved. Posted: April 18, 2012.

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