The “Pie” gang is back just in time before we have completely outlived our memories of them. American Reunion has exactly one disgusting (but guilty pleasure) moment, two awkward “porn” moments, two wayward moments of temptation, one hideous aftermath of cunnilingus, and one hideous sex moment between Jim (Jason Biggs) and wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) that reminded me of band camp. It’s all so mischievously depraved, yet routine, and I realize how the beginning 1999 film is the one that influenced a whole generational onslaught of gross-sex and porn-gone-bloopers jokes in American movies in the new century. The story? Well it ends with a high school reunion, but it’s funny how a few story strands remain unresolved by the closing credits.
Everybody’s grown-up except Stifler (Seann William Scott), but there’s still that teen prankster id that makes the guys want to be young and immature again. Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge) is still sipping on hard liquor on the rocks while adjusting her cleavage – who’s in for drunk kinkiness with her? She seems to be in these movies, just waiting for somebody to commit vice with her.
Of anybody in the cast, I was most impressed by the All-American sportscaster Oz (Chris Klein) who seems to be the only guy in the cast with a $1,000 wardrobe. It’s actually Klein himself that has me wondering – he disappeared for years from the movies because his dopey-jock thing got tired, but now comes back with a new look and attitude. Like a more handsome William Fichtner. Or maybe he’s the new Josh Brolin on the rise.
Eddie Kaye Thomas, as Finch, has grown into a less muscular version of Nicolas Cage’s dirty devil side – he’s a mysterious adventurer and world traveler, as it seems. I wish the film had written more cunning lines for him. But if there’s ever an actor who has grown to be less than an actor it’s Thomas Ian Nicholas as Kevin. He’s not cut out to hold the screen anymore, and he’s a leecher/grabber-on performer whining his way through his lines and doing that I’m-moral shtick while in the perpetual throes of adult discontent and guilt for thinking unsavory thoughts. He’s a 30-year old with a 15-year old’s ability to handle problems.
Tara Reid, the most shallow dimbulb to ever get 15 minutes of fame in Hollywood, returns to the franchise but I was relieved to see her only in a small handful of scenes. Mena Suvari, who made a splash in ’99 for both “American Pie” and “American Beauty” plays her scenes as if it were a Sam Mendes’ “Beauty” sequel. She’s way too vogue for this group, it’s a case of an actress who seems to signal that she would rather star in a more reputable art film.
In each of these movies, Jim for whatever reason seems to be the center connective tissue to the story, this time concentrating on the inactive sex life between him and wife Michelle as the film’s major issue. There’s a fresh and nubile 18-year old thrown into the mix, who is nude in several shots (drunk as well), who has the hots for Jim because he was once her babysitter. Jim is incompetent in his attempts to back away from Kara (Ali Cobrin), only deepening his troubles with her – it’s funny to see him bury his face in her stuffed animal collection to hide himself. All Jim wants is to get her into her PJ’s and take a quick exit out, but Stifler barges in and wants to get this girl out of those PJ’s.
Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy) is back doing his hapless dad bit. As a widower, Jim’s Dad needs to get out on the scene again, and he goes from dweeb in makeover to a slightly less dweeb man. Surely enough he goes to a party, gets into a liberated intoxicated state, hooks up, and goes on a paranoid old man sprint from the cops. He also, unlike anyone else, gets his own end credits epilogue.
I’ve seen high school reunion scenes in sitcoms made with better scenarios and quips. “Reunion” has a slapped together feel to it, and it doles out obligatory encounters between former cast members. But I was glad to finally meet Finch’s mom. And Stifler, the ultimate jerk, is the washout who gets some well-deserved payback. And at least he’s a guy who knows how to clinch a deal – I only wish we saw it as it happens.
It takes nearly the whole movie but Natasha Lyonne and Shannon Elizabeth finally make cameo appearances.
112 Minutes. Rated R.
COMEDY / GUILTY PLEASURES / WEEKEND CAMP
Film Cousins: “Porky’s” (1982); “American Pie” (1999); “Old School” (2003); American Wedding” (2003).