Masturbation, sex, masturbation, sex, nudity, masturbation, scatology, sex, F-bombs, masturbation, bare breasts, and sex filling the big screen can mean only one thing. It’s time for “American Reunion.”
It was back in 1999 that we met the graduating class from East Great Falls High School in Michigan. We saw them again in “American Pie 2” and in “America Wedding,” and now it’s time to find out how they all turned out as adults.
As we watch them all prepare to return for their 13th reunion, we find that Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), who tied the knot in “American Wedding,” now have a toddler. (Apparently Jim finally realized that pies are incapable of bearing children.) Oz (Chris Kelin) has become a famous sportscaster, while Stifler (Seann William Scott) has a menial job and looks as if he’ll never amount to much. Despite having a good marriage, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) still finds something missing from his life, and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has lived through some great adventures, but he still has the hots for Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge).
As all of these friends gather together again, the profanity runs rampant, the booze flows, the sex prevails, and raunchiness rules. And we can’t help feeling as if we have seen it and heard it all before. The problem with making multiple sequels to films like “American Pie” is that all the surprises and good sight gags have already been used in the original film, and attempts to use variations of them in later films tend to fall flat because there is nothing original about them.
“American Pie” offered some very funny, albeit often gross, humor, but that is not the case in this film. This is not to say that hardcore fans of the films will be disappointed. The characters are the same, and he actors do a credible job of reprising each of them. Michelle even manages a “this-one-time-at-band-camp” line, which was one of the few highlights of the movie for me. In the film’s production notes, several of the actors explained what it was like to return to portraying the characters they introduced in 1999.
“As an actor I went further than I’ve gone before,” Biggs said. “We had the freedom to go to these places comedically that many actors don’t. That’s why we’ve been able to avoid being gratuitous with the comedy. This series has never been about being gross just to be gross or trying to insert shock value. It’s all earned because these are characters people relate to. There’s real heart in the movies, in all of them. I hope people respond because I put myself out there. I put out more than I’ve ever shown, and I’m not talking emotionally. I literally showed more of my body than ever before. I don’t know how to top that. Maybe the next stop is porn?”
Hannigan, who has become a huge success on television as the star of “How I Met Your Mother,” probably turns in the best performance in the film because she manages to bring a new maturity to the character of Michelle’s without sacrificing the eccentricity that made her so appealing in the first movie. In the production notes, she explained her dilemma in playing the character.
“Obviously, Michelle has aged, and I was worried about how to bring her quirkiness into an adult level without her seeming like she was still in high school. But (directors) Jon (Hurwitz) and Haydenerg (Schlossberg) did such a great job with the script, and it wasn’t hard to find a happy medium. She has matured, but she’s still quirky.”
Another mainstay from the original film is Scott, who said in the production notes that he had much more fun playing Stifler this time around.
“The role is so much more fun now. My sense of humor has changed. I’m weirder and a little bit bolder. It’s fantastic to play a character who is in his thirties and doing things that other 30-year-olds really want to do. Stifler is the person who hasn’t changed, but the world around him has. He’s still living in the world of high school.”
But as he did in the original “American Pie,” the actor who made this movie bearable for me is Levy. He has about three main segments in the film, and all of them are excellent, but the one near the end when he has a final heart-to-heart talk with Jim about how to solve the problems of a troubled marriage is an absolute classic because of his masterful deadpan delivery. In fact, if it had not been for him, I might have been tempted to drop the dreaded goose egg as a final score.
Thanks to Levy’s presence, however, and to Michelle’s reference to band camp, “American Reunion” gets a final score of six. But if the class of 1999 decides to hold a second reunion, I definitely will skip it.