Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' The 10 Best Films Of 2004 The 10 Best Films Of 2004 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

Review: 'American Reunion' Is A Stale Slice Of 'Pie' That Coasts On Nostalgia & Cameos

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist April 4, 2012 at 6:05PM

“American Reunion” begins with the franchise’s typical sexual misunderstanding played for casual sitcom laughs. Married couple Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are preparing for bedtime when she excuses herself to take a late night bath. Without saying a word, Jim watches her leave before visiting bookmarked porn sites on his laptop computer, pleasing himself with a sock filled with what can only be considered an excessive amount of lubrication. Through a few prepackaged pratfalls too implausible to properly explain, Jim and Michelle’s pre-pubescent son learns that Mommy and Daddy had been pleasuring themselves in separate rooms, and lack the self-awareness to properly shield themselves when caught. The camera stays fixed on the silent milieu of an embarrassed Michelle shrinking underneath the bubbles in her bathtub, and Jim clenching the bleeding tip of his crotch, the two of them separated by a shower handle excitedly dancing across the tiles. It is quite possibly the saddest opening scene in recent studio comedy history.
9
American Reunion Beach

American Reunion” begins with the franchise’s typical sexual misunderstanding played for casual sitcom laughs. Married couple Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are preparing for bedtime when she excuses herself to take a late night bath. Without saying a word, Jim watches her leave before visiting bookmarked porn sites on his laptop computer, pleasing himself with a sock filled with what can only be considered an excessive amount of lubrication. Through a few prepackaged pratfalls too implausible to properly explain, Jim and Michelle’s pre-pubescent son learns that Mommy and Daddy had been pleasuring themselves in separate rooms, and lack the self-awareness to properly shield themselves when caught. The camera stays fixed on the silent milieu of an embarrassed Michelle shrinking underneath the bubbles in her bathtub, and Jim clenching the bleeding tip of his crotch, the two of them separated by a shower handle excitedly dancing across the tiles. It is quite possibly the saddest opening scene in recent studio comedy history.

Fortunately, “American Reunion” perks up beyond that, if only because everyone looks glad to be back. It’s a return to their hometown for the high school reunion, which means “megastar” Chris Klein has no excuse to back out despite not making time for “American Wedding.” And he’s not alone: fans of the franchise will be glad to know that if you were a fly on the wall during “American Pie 2,” you have your time to shine here. Nearly three quarters of the film's inexplicable 113-minute runtime are spent re-introducing characters from the previous films, usually involving elaborate callbacks to running gags that, in many ways, wore out their welcome the first time.

American Reunion Chris Klein

Like always, the focus is on Jim, who reconnects with his father, again played by comedy vet Eugene Levy. Levy, who seems like he’s paid in one-liners, again squirms through his role, this time as a lonely widower tasked with helping Jim re-ignite the heat in his failing sexual relationship with Michelle. This task is made even more difficult considering the neighborhood child he used to babysit, Kara, is now a nubile eighteen year old (the bubbly Ali Cobrin). While it’s a notably inorganic development to have Kara fall in completely deranged stalker-love with Jim, Cobrin at least gives the filmmakers a chance to indulge in the sleazy cheesecake aspects of the original film, which seemed to long ago be buried under a sea of conservative nostalgia and unearned good vibes.

Klein’s return comes with a level of meta self-awareness, as his Oz became the alpha male of the group, (painfully and unconvincingly) hosting a sports show and becoming a reality television star. Klein is trying to be a good sport in allowing Oz to be mocked as a featured member of a “Dancing With The Stars”-type show, but it only reminds viewers how desperately uninteresting Klein is as both an actor and “personality.” Meanwhile, Eddie Kaye Thomas’ low-key Finch again gets relegated to background duties, and Thomas Ian Nicholas’ Kevin carries on a tired, years-later flame for Vicky (Tara Reid, who acts much like internet videos buffer).

American Reunion Jason Biggs Alyson Hannigan

With five lead stories to follow, it’s troubling how three can be such duds, but at least there’s Stifler. Seann William Scott wears this character like a finely tailored suit, and 'Reunion' finally douses him with a serving of humility as he has become the least-successful of the five of them. Somewhat over-the-hill, Stifler is revitalized by being surrounded by the bevy of local high school girls. He’s now Wooderson, with significantly less self-respect.

The series has been handed off to directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, the architects of the 'Harold And Kumar' franchise. Admirably, they try to balance out the schmaltz with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor, going for the absurd or abstract in gags about bullying or homosexuality. The warmth of the original films remains, however surface level, but the duo never forget to keep things moving quickly. It results in a film that’s a bit more of a shaggy dog than the earlier efforts, its plot strands slack and unsatisfying, it’s deadweight notably visible. To their credit, Hurwitz and Schlossberg never let the film drag, and they’re notably more skilled filmmakers and humorists than J.B. Rogers and Jesse Dylan, the men behind parts two and three.

Of course, the “American Pie” films have always been a boy’s club, and that remains the case here. The women in the film’s universe are either braindead nymphos, irrational harridans, or both in random order. A mild attempt at rectifying this (and the cast’s overwhelming whiteness) is made by the inclusion of Dania Ramirez, who plays former band student Selena. In her brief time onscreen, she gets to be smart, independent, and strong without being turned into a sex kitten or prude. More importantly, she’s actually somewhat funny trading barbs with Finch in what amounts to the D or E plotline. It’s a dopey, obvious attempt at diversity, but in this case, it’s the effort that counts. [C]

This article is related to: Review, American Reunion, Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Dania Ramirez, Eugene Levy, Thomas Ian Nicolas, Alyson Hannigan


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates