Justin does American Reunion

reunion1“Not us, our generation, we were more mature.”

The Scoop: 2012 R, directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, and starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, and Seann William Scott

Tagline: Save the best piece for last

Summary Capsule: The American Pie gang regroups for their 13th class reunion, and the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Justin’s Rating: This bed is on fire… well, it’s simmering,

Justin’s Review: Has it really been 15 years since American Pie came out?  Was that really 1999?  Egads, when I saw it I had just graduated college, Mutant Reviewers was two years old, and we were still in a Clinton presidency.  When I moved to Colorado for a year, American Pie was among my faithful staples of comfort films, not really because I cared about the ribald nature of the movie, but because it had a cast of characters that felt like friends that I wished I had had.

Time marches on.  American Pie 2 comes out in 2001 and serves more of the same as the guys and gals go to college.  American Wedding in 2003 seemed to wrap up the trilogy, moving Jim and Michelle on to marriage and everyone to a new stage of life.  Then there was the four-film spinoff series from 2005-09, but I think people’s love affair with this series had ended well before that.  They were funny.  They looked at the amusing side of sex, had a few risque and gross moments, and they injected a lot of heart into characters looking at their relationships.

So did American Reunion really need to happen in 2012, 13 years after the first film?  No, it probably did not.  Nobody was asking for it.  It barely made its budget back stateside (although it was much bigger internationally).  But the fact that it did happen and that everyone in this movie, from the cast to crew, seem to genuinely care about doing a fourth movie right, makes this something worth noticing, if not viewing.

To go with the theme of coming back together after a long time apart, the filmmakers went to great lengths to secure just about every actor and actress that was involved with the first movie.  We have the return of characters we haven’t seen since the second movie, such as Oz, and it seemed like every glorified extra from the original got some little moment to at least wave to the camera to say, “Yes, I’m still alive!  Hi mom!”  Beyond the casting call, American Reunion obviously parallels and inverts American Pie in dozens of scenes.  It’s a movie that invites you to remember the first movie and hopefully revive some of the fondness you once had for it.  Of course, your mileage may vary depending on if there was fondness there to begin with.

It’s not an incredibly deep plot, however.  The high school that these kids — now adults in their 30s — went to is throwing a 13th (??) reunion that everyone wants to go back to.  But everyone’s bringing some baggage with them, whether it’s Jim and Michelle’s dimmed love life, Stifler’s horrible job, Oz’s unrequited love, or Jim’s Dad’s recent loss of his wife.  Played out over a weekend, American Reunion is more like a laid-back vacation where everyone hits the beach, everyone goes to a restaurant, everyone goes to Stifler’s party, and everyone goes to the reunion.  Mostly it’s about relationships, some old, some new, and how they deal with them as adults.

Of course, this being Jim, Finch, Stifler, Oz, and Kevin, there are going to be a few madcap adventures and mixups that will probably involve partial nudity and humiliating circumstances, although it almost seems pretty tame this time around.  Actually, I kind of just felt embarassed for the movie, which seems to shrug at times and go, “Well, I guess we have to throw this in, even if it goes against the point that we’re trying to make about growing up, responsibility, and moving on.  Here kids, have a guy pooping in a cooler.”

American Reunion is strangely the best when characters get to have one-on-one conversations with each other.  Jim and his dad take turns offering each other advice in a way that makes you realize how much that family has love and respect in it.  I also liked how Finch finally found someone he connected with, even though he should have done so a long time ago.

Ultimately, I walked away feeling mixed about the entire experience.  As I said, the effort given by everyone keeps this from tanking and occasionally makes it amusing and affable, but there’s really nothing new here.  We’re seeing a reunion for the sake of seeing a reunion, but is that thrilling?  It should have been funnier, but making 30-somethings go completely against common sense (even theirs) to act like kids felt… strange.

With my own 20-year high school reunion scheduled for this year, I’ve given some thought about whether it’s worth it to go to these things and catch up with people that, frankly, don’t have much in common any more.  Maybe that’s like it with movies, too.  I’m all for sequels, but they need a point and a purpose.  If there’s ever an American Pie 5, and I genuinely hope that there is not, it needs to ground itself in that.

A memorial to those who served their gender so well

A memorial to those who served their gender so well

Intermission!

    • Perhaps the worst porn site ever
    • At eight films, Eugene Levy has become the only actor to be in every film in the American Pie franchise.
    • The first main American Pie film not to be written by Adam Herz. Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg wrote this script.
    • Though they both appear in all the theatrical films in the American Pie series, this marks the first time that Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy share any scenes together.

Groovy Quotes

Steve Stifler: Ladies, you’d better be working hard – you weren’t hired for your looks. Actually you were. Not you.

Kevin: Were we just as obnoxious as these kids back in the day?
Finch: Not us, our generation, we were more mature.

AJ: Did you just refer to yourself as the Stifmeister? Coz that’s, like, the lamest name ever.

Kevin: Don’t mess with the class of ’99, bitch!

Kevin: You destroyed their jet skis!
Steve Stifler: They splashed us, so…

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • American Pie
  • American Pie 2
  • American Wedding
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