American Reunion parties like it’s 1999
American Pie: Reunion (or simply American Reunion here in the UK, because Brits hate pie, perhaps) is the official follow-up to 2003’s American Wedding (aka American Pie: The Wedding on these shores. Follow that logic.), eschewing the existence of the four straight-to-video spin-off films. Bringing the original cast back into the fold, the players may have matured but the material certainly hasn’t. Crude, vulgar and shallow, American Reunion is exactly what one would expect from the Pie world as envisioned by the team behind the Harold & Kumar films.
Utilising a contrived 13 year high school reunion premise (these things are done every 5 years in the States), the gang re-group in sunny Georgia, which fills in for the decidedly less appealing state of Michigan, the film’s actual setting. Though all the American Pie ladies are present and accounted for, the focus centres on the boys- who, as it happens, will be boys. Drunken antics and misogyny ensue in the days leading up to the third act’s actual reunion. Of the women, only Alyson Hannigan gets anything resembling a fair shake, as Jim’s (Jason Biggs) sexually frustrated wife Michelle. Meanwhile Mena Suvari pops up to fill the requisite old-flame role of Heather, which also serves to remind the audience that she’s still alive. Kevin and Vicky’s (Thomas Ian Nicholas and Tara Reid) romance is also revisited, though co-writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg appear reticent to give Reid much to do. While all the characters, sans Stifler (Seann William Scott), are shown to have settled down with varying degrees of success, the level of humour presented remains firmly stuck in 1999. Full of unabashed profanity, dick jokes (one being particularly visual), poop gags and objectification of women, American Reunion is occasionally funny, but the laughs are never plentiful enough to truly justify the crass depths the screenplays sinks to.
Hit or miss comedy aside, the story American Reunion tells ticks all the necessary boxes. There are heaps of references to the original movies while an array of cameos ensures that no one misses out on the party. There’s also a great pay-off that is sure to please fans, even if it is a good ten years too late. Eugene Levy, the series’ stalwart member, delivers another giggle-inducing turn as Jim’s dad and provides the film’s few guilt-free laughs. With a solid, yet unspectacular story as the backdrop, the problem with American Reunion lies in the disconnect between the type of humour the film employs and, not only those left to deliver it, but the target audience itself. Much like the characters and cast of American Reunion the audience that enjoyed the original films has aged and (hopefully) matured over the past ten years. Now such shameless, cringe-inducing jokes and gags may be more likely to elicit a roll of the eyes rather than a deep belly-laugh. Matters aren’t helped by American Reunion’s total lack of insight either. When the Stifmeister is eventually chastised for behaving as if he were still a rowdy teenager, it goes down without the slightest hint of irony. American Reunion doesn’t reflect the concept of growing up and moving on. Instead, it opts to be that high school jock Stifler represents; desperate to relive his glory days.
Sure, a new, more intelligent approach to American Reunion would have flown in the face of the tone the series has established. Still, its inability (or outright refusal) to mature along with its audience and characters limits how enjoyable it is. Though not a bad flick, as such, it is wholly low-brow entertainment. Whether or not American Reunion ever could have been more than the cinematic equivalent of a dump in a beer cooler, however, is open to debate. 6/10