Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Run Time: 1 hour 53 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, John Cho, Jennifer Coolidge, Eugene Levy, Ali Cobrin
Written & Directed by Jon Hurwitz & Hayden Schlossberg (The Harold & Kumar series)
The good thing about pie is that you always know exactly what flavor you're going to get. In American Reunion - the 4th film in the American Pie series - the recipe is the same as it always was, but this deliciously fresh update will be sure to satisfy even those who feel like they've had their fill with Stifler and the gang.
In case you are new, American Pie was a tremendous success when it opened back in 1999. It followed a group of high school boys determined to lose their virginity by prom night. It captured the horny sexual energy of older movies from the 80s like Porky's, but infused the comedy with the R-rated vulgarity of the next generation. The scene in the kitchen where Jim (Jason Biggs) is caught humping a pie (because he was told it would properly simulate the real thing), is one of the most iconic scenes in the history of modern comedy.
In sub-sequent chapters of the series, the group of friends reunited while in college, and then most recently for Jim's marriage to band camp nerd, Michelle (Alyson Hannigan). These last two servings of Pie felt like eating leftovers - stale and bland.
But in the hands of the up-and-coming writing/directing duo Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (who wrote all of the Harry & Kumar films, while only directing the Guantanamo Bay chapter), the American Pie franchise is injected with the same ingredients that made the first film so enjoyable.
In the very first scene, where we see a mattress bobbing up and down only to reveal that it is Michelle bouncing a baby on her lap, we learn that much has changed in the lives of these characters. And yet moments later when Jim is caught masturbating to his laptop and Michelle is pleasuring herself in the shower, we learn that nothing has really changed at all.
It is the gang's 13th high school reunion, and everybody from the original film is back in some way or another, including bit characters that you may or may not even remember. The film doesn't quite juggle their screen time evenly, with Jim and Stifler (Seann William Scott) getting the bulk. But all of their storylines and updated lives inter-mingle well.
Jim and Michelle are married with a kid, but are having some serious trouble in the sack. Oz (Chris Klein) is a big-time TV sports reporter who is best known for an appearance on a celebrity dance-off reality show. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nichols) is happily married but is more housewife than anything. And the eccentric Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has seemingly been living it up at all corners of the Earth.
Then there is Stifler. He hasn't changed a bit, and who would want him to? Ironically though, he finds himself at a job where his boss is exactly the kind of dweeb he would have bullied back in high school. Seeing Stifler in the real world provides some great comedic situations.
As the group reunites in town for the upcoming reunion, Jim finds that his next-door neighbor (Ali Cobrin) is all grown up and has turned into a horny sex kitten with the hots for him. Jim's Dad, played by the comedic legend Eugene Levy, is now a widow, which gives him more opportunities to get out of the house and take part in the absurdity. Just like in life, dad may end up needing advice himself, instead of always being the one to give it.
All comedies at the end of day should be judged on how funny they are, and American Reunion is hilarious. The certain brand of humor that has defined the series is still present, yet the comedic lens now shines through the window of a 30-something adult. As a member of this age group, I identified with many of the themes in this film. You wouldn't think a film like American Reunion would have a lot of deeper meaning, but that's why the original film endured...it is low-brow raunch with heart.
Much of the comedy comes from juxtaposing this older gang with the new crop of horny high school kids, and from the smart script. The characters don't share the spotlight evenly, but the inclusion of all of the originals makes American Reunion an authentic slice of teenage life, and the trials that growing up entail.
Still, if vulgar and absurd R-rated comedy is not your thing, you probably didn't like the first film.
As that first film included the memorable "pie scene," this film has another soon-to-be famous scene that also takes place in the Levenstein's kitchen. Let's just say that Jason Biggs is fearless - an under-rated physical comedian who is apparently willing to go to any length for a laugh.
I entered American Reunion skeptical and left the theater with a nostalgic glow. These characters grow right along with us. They are so relatable, that when placed in the right hands, I would think that we could check in on them throughout their lives, dealing with the issues of each generation that they enter into to. American Divorce? American Retirement Home? American Funeral? I'd stay along for the ride if every slice was as funny and impactful as this one.
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