By Delon Villanueva
It’s been thirteen years since the first American Pie, and although the characters haven’t changed much since the original, neither have its actors. Sean William Scott and Alyson Hannigan continue to be successful in their acting careers, as Jason Biggs is subjected to being typecast, while others have disappeared from Hollywood. Well, maybe not Tara Reid and Chris Klein with their controversial public lives. Though overall, it seemed like they all could use a career boost. So why not return to what started it all? It’s been a while since American Wedding, back in 2003, and nine years later, you have to wonder what Jim, Kevin, Oz, Finch, and Stiffler have been up to. Harold and Kumar writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg hop on as the head directors and writers to the fourth and most likely final film in the franchise, replacing the series’ usual writer Adam Herz. Jason Biggs and Sean William Scott serve as executive producers to bring back the gang one more time…but is it just a cheap cash-in? Is there a good story to tell to bring back the franchise and rid of its reputation for awful, awful direct-to-DVD films? Even with new writers and directors, and a lot of age showing in the formula, it is what it is: an American Piemovie, whether you like it or not.
It is 2012, and Jim and Michelle have been married for nine years with a two-year-son, but they struggle to keep their relationship strong, as there has not been some action going on in the bedroom. On the other hand, Kevin is happily married with his own wife, but maybe has had too much attachment with her, and needs a guys’ night out. Oz is a sports anchor, whose life is overshadowed with his celebrity persona and his hot, horny girlfriend. Finch seems to be living large in traveling the world, but has yet to find true love. Then there’s Stiffler, who is working as a temp in an investment term, but still is the huge douchebag he was in high school. Though with all this, they take some time out of their adult lives to be together once again at the East Great Falls high school reunion. Here, not only do they catch up with their buds, but with their old high school sweethearts, Heather, Vicky, and well…Stiffler’s Mom. So yes, they are pretty much the same guys you loved back in 1999, and with the same acting abilities. Chris Klein and Tara Reid continue their career in terrible line delivery, but two cast members easily steal the show. Sean William Scott is great as ever as bonehead, homophobic jock Steve Stiffler, and the movie gives a lot to Eugene Levy to do with the character of Jim’s Dad, who tries to get back out there after the passing of his wife. He does a lot of funny stuff at Stiffler’s party that you never even imagined him to do.
Writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg do a alright job, but it is a bit disappointing, considering their work on Harold and Kumar and that the movie’s formula isn’t as fresh as it could have been in 2012. Although there are some great gags and jokes here and there, the ones that do fall are results of uninteresting and predictable setups. When there aren’t jokes, the dialogue isn’t very strong either. We don’t really get the sense that Oz and Heather or Kevin and Vicky are really reconnecting after all these years, but instead it feels like they are just filling up the running time, which is odd as this is the longest one in the series. A lot of funny scenes make up for it, but the character development was never a strong suit in the American Pie movies, except for the conversations with Jim and his dad. Those have always been the heart of these movies, showing the humor and sweetness in the uncomfortable situation of the “sex talk” between a father and his son. Hurwitz and Schlossberg seem to know what they are doing with this franchise, but it doesn’t feel like they are fixing the flaws of the past three either.
With all those flaws, it may sound like American Reunion doesn’t live up to its expectations, but it essentially does what a revival to this franchise would. These movies always had a mix of raunchy humor and cheesiness, but what really drives this movie is the nostalgia factor. The American Pie series has always been subjected to mixed response by critics, but there were many teenagers that grew up loving these films anyways, and this reunion reminds them of not only the pop culture of the 90s, but their age of innocence. It was a time when American Pie was one of the best movies they have ever seen, and even though they have matured enough to know it may not be as good as it was when they were in high school, it is a reminder that all of these teenage memories will always be with them. That being said, if you love American Pie, you love this movie. It was made for you. If you never liked it, there’s no reason for you to try it again. For me, I didn’t grow up seeing these movies, as I was too young, but I think they’re fun movies, and nothing more than that. I enjoy these characters enough to see them in theaters. Otherwise, even with its wacky gross-out humor, it’s a harmless R-rated comedy that doesn’t exactly live up to today’s comedy standards.