Back to school – American Pie: Reunion review

American Pie: Reunion – Starring Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, and Seann William Scott. Directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. Rated MA. Originally published April 4, 2012. By Simon Miraudo.

American Pie: Reunion arrives on DVD and Blu-ray August 22, 2012.

A lot has changed since the gang from East Great Falls last graced our screens all the way back in 2003. Video games abandoned traditional controllers. Osama Bin Laden and Kim Jong Il died. Celebrities embraced Twitter, and a lot of them got in trouble for saying really offensive things. The Avengers finally arrived in cinemas, curing us of all sickness, and ending famine, suffering, and inequality the world over (or rather, it will in a few weeks time). And just recently Oreo revolutionised the hackneyed ‘Double Oreo’ and introduced ‘Triple Double Oreos’. That’s a lot of cultural milestones, and today’s teens are different from the generations that have come before because of them. So, unless the four direct-to-DVD American Pie spin-offs released in the past few years actually have serious cache amongst kids, I can’t imagine them caring much about what Jim, Oz, Kevin, Finch, or even Stifler have been up to over the past decade.

But that’s probably a good thing. American Reunion – or, American Pie: Reunionas it’s called here in Australia – fares worst when it tries to compete with recent high school raunch-fests. Writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg are unable to craft any particularly memorable sequences to outdo the infamous set pieces from the original movie. Whenever they do try and wedge the 30-something male cast into an awkward sexual scenario with a buxom 18-year-old girl, it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant for everyone involved. Thus, the fourth instalment of the series is unlikely to send any young boys tittering onto the schoolyard. What sets American Reunion apart – and occasionally, even elevates it – is the nostalgia factor. There is an inherent pleasure and comfort in seeing these actors reunite, and I found myself surprisingly delighted to welcome back each cast member as they revealed themselves one by one.

If you hadn’t already picked up the premise of the film – really? – here’s the basic distillation: the class of ’99 that we once saw frantically and embarrassingly attempt to jettison their virginity are invited to their 13-year school reunion. But the crew is not as it used to be. The formerly freaky Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are having trouble getting the spark back ever since they had a kid; Oz’s (Chris Klein) lacrosse days are over, and he now earns a pay check by hosting a banal sports show and appearing over-enthusiastic on Celebrity Dance Off (a nice play on his notorious leaked Mamma Mia auditions); Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a house-husband; Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is a worldly traveller; and Stifler (Seann William Scott), is, well, Stifler, but now his shtick is getting really pathetic considering he can’t even hold down a temp job at an insurance firm (Stifler remains – despite all odds – a supremely appealing presence, and that’s entirely thanks to Scott’s over-sexed, eager-puppy performance).

They’re not the only ones to return: Mena SuvariTara Reid, and pretty much all the bit players from the first flick score some screen time. Even Jim’s dad (Eugene Levy) and Stifler’s mum (Jennifer Coolidge) get their own romantic moments. Each character has a surprisingly thoughtful through-line, having to deal with work, marriage, children, and even death. With the cruel realities of adulthood upon them, and the sudden realisation that they are all 30 and perhaps not living the life they had always dreamed, how can they not reflect on high school with rose tinted glasses? But, as they learn, you can never really go back home. And though American Reunion is a mostly enjoyable experience, it pales in comparison to the original, which only makes that maxim all the more true.


Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

American Pie: Reunion arrives on DVD and Blu-ray August 22, 2012.

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