It’s been my experience that the only people who look forward to reunions are the people who actually jump at the chance to organize them. They seem to have smiles that never end and a flair for the nostalgic, while everyone else just hopes their illegal diet supplement kicks in on time. American Reunion is the only reunion where you won’t have to suck in your gut, which is good, because you’ll be laughing for most of the way.
Reunions are supposed to be every ten years, but you can’t expect a franchise that featured the deflowering of an apple pie to be conventional, can you? There’s a 13 year reunion and the old gang is getting back together, but time hasn’t stood still for our Fantastic Five, which includes Jim (Jason Biggs), Oz (Chris Klein), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and of course, Stifler (Seann William Scott). Jim is happily married to band camp hottie Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and with a 2 year old. Oz is a now a low rent ESPN type broadcaster with latent Vanilla Ice tendencies. Kevin is married and a devout metrosexual. Finch is a self-proclaimed adventurer and Stifler is well…Stifler.
No sooner than the guys are assembled do their libidos start to come to life with, of course, comedic circumstances. But this is no longer 1999 and with great erections come great responsibilities, such as when the now grown up girl that Jim used to babysit, Kara (Ali Cobrin), throws her nubile body at him or how the guys help him get a drunken Kara into bed (merely to sleep) before her parents get wise. It’s not the only challenge of keeping one’s fidelity in the film.
Speaking of parents, the two dominant ones in the American Pie franchise are not washed under the rug of nostalgia. Eugene Levy returns as Jim’s dad, complete with thick eyebrows and a ton of awkwardly inappropriate exchanges with his son. He and Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge) have a meeting of the minds that will leave audiences convinced that the franchise has come full circle.
Like its namesake pie, the film not for everyone, but it’s always been the sweetness that’s separated it from not only its imitators, but the four made-for-video spinoffs that it unfortunately spawned. The gross out gags may…gross out, but American Pie was always more than that. Like Porky’s before it, the spirit of friendship was often lost in the quest for T&A. The boys are still trying to get laid, but in Reunion they also realized that the true money shot is when they all come together…as friends (I got that pun on sale).
Writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg put on a new layer of comedic paint on a house that had become a little worn down. They gave us Harold and Kumar, which makes it an even bet to make even the most sequel cynical moviegoers bust a gut at some point. The duo wisely kept to the reunion theme, complete with grown up decisions and possible reunions with first loves. They wisely chose not to pressure the cast into being plastic surgery perfect. The cast has aged gracefully and when it comes to comedy, looks are only skin deep anyway, especially when Stifler is relieving himself in a beverage cooler.
Oddly enough, the thing that keeps American Reunion fresh is the fact that they’re not trying to be 17 again. Ok, maybe Stifler is, but he’s the cautionary tale that you can’t take your eyes off of. Loyal to a fault, but with less filters than a smoke stack.
Although the cast, particularly Seann William Scott, have avoided being typecast over the years, there’s truly no shame in admitting that Stifler is a character that everyone wants to punch one minute and hug the next. He’s possibly the most well rounded of the characters because he does lack a filter, and on occasion, a conscience.
Chemistry has always kept the guys together and it’s what keeps the film watchable, despite being nearly two hours in length. American Reunion proves that sequels can be done right if you have fun with nostalgia instead of revelling in it.