Release Date: April 6, 2012
Directors: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Writers: Adam Herz (characters), Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (screenplay)
Stars: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan and Seann William Scott
MPAA Rating: R
In the opening scene in American Reunion, things have officially come full circle. After three theatrical sequels and countless direct-to-DVD spinoffs in the American Pie franchise, our protagonist Jim (Jason Biggs) once again finds himself unable to get laid.
This time around though, he’s not a horny teenager making a pact with his friends to lose his virginity. Jim is now a married man, still together with his high school sweetheart Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). But with a young child in the house, the two have been unable to rekindle their old flame.
The girl who was all too happy to take Jim’s virginity (and who once used a flute in a very unorthodox way) is now a tired mother who uses her alone time in the bathtub to take care of business. And Jim has turned to a laptop full of Internet porn to satisfy his urges. And he’s still a guy who has a knack for getting himself into uncomfortable situations. When he’s startled while looking at said porn, he accidentally closes the laptop on little Jim.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
That’s the theme of American Reunion. All of these characters have gone their separate ways and created their own lives, but as soon as they are all back in town for their high school reunion, they fall back into old patterns.
Oz (Chris Kline) is now a big time celebrity sportscaster with a model girlfriend, but he finds himself pining for his high school beau Heather (Mena Suvari). Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is now happily married and sporting a beard, but he discovers he still has feelings for Vicky (Tara Reid). Stifler (Seann William Scott) is basically stuck in high school – he’s still living at home with his mom (Jennifer Coolidge) and partying like the old days while working as an intern for an investment firm. The only wild card is Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) who shows up on a motorcycle telling the gang about all his adventures across the globe. But even Finch isn’t as far removed from his awkward, analytic high school persona as he’d like everyone to believe.
Having graduated high school in 1999 just like these characters did, the film was an interesting trip down memory lane for me. The soundtrack features plenty of memorable 90s music and the characters spend a lot of time reminiscing and commenting on how different things are for kids now. At one point, the guys go to a high school beach party and complain about how much sluttier today’s high school girls dress. Later in the film, Stifler’s attempt to charm his way into a family’s house to create a diversion runs into problems when he asks to use their phone to call AAA and they are skeptical that neither he and nor his friends have a cell phone on them. Stifler tells the gang that this ruse always worked in high school, back before anyone had cell phones.
The film works because these characters – with the exception of Stifler – are a little older and wiser and more hesitant to get into the American Pie style shenanigans you’d expect. They know how ridiculous what they are doing is and are only doing it because it’s their reunion and they all need a fun escape from their mundane lives. This helps sell the wackier moments in the film without giving us characters who have lacked any personal growth in the past 13 years.
There are plenty of great hijinks and gratutious nudity, just like you’d expect. There are also lots of references to the original film and in-jokes for the diehard fans of American Pie. You get cameos from all the characters you’d hope to see and John Cho, who as an unknown when he appeared in the first American Pie film, gets an expanded role in this one, including a rather fun and silly subplot involving his fellow MILF chanter. We also get a moment that I’m surprised never happened in any of the previous films – Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) finally meets Stifler’s mom.
I’m not sure how accessible or enjoyable this film would be to people who are unfamiliar with American Pie, but fans of the franchise will enjoy it. Like an actual high school reunion, it’s a pleasant trip down memory lane and one that thankfully doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.