May 9 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge
AMERICAN Reunion is the fourth big screen entry in the American Pie franchise.
Old favourites including Jim (Jason Biggs), Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Stifler (Seann William Scott) and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) reunite for a high school reunion, but has adulthood changed them at all?
After a slew of direct-to-DVD sequels that most sane people stayed clear of, the gang are back in cinemas for another slice of the pie after nine years’ absence.
The first film, which I love, spawned two good but not as good as the original sequels and a wide range of imitators too long to mention, but has the world moved on from gross-out comedy tales of sexual failure, via more modern fare like Superbad?
If American Reunion is anything to go by then maybe... just about.
It’s not a bad film, and has many funny moments, but reheat’s material we’ve already seen and American Pie: The Wedding felt like more of a natural resolution for these characters.
But there is something comforting about seeing the old gang back together.
Co-directors and writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have previously worked on the Harold & Kumar movies and the main story thrust is how our favourites are getting ‘old.’
The Spice Girls are, bizarrely, described as “classic rock”, Stifler references Twilight and Justin Bieber to try and stay cool, there’s an ace Chumbawamba gag (if you don’t know who they are then nineties one hit wonders must’ve passed you by), and the girl Jim used to babysit has, erm, grown up.
Biggs and Hannigan’s married couple are now with child and have a starved sex life and Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) and Oz (Chris Klein) are left to wonder about the girls that got away.
Like last year’s Scream 4, American Reunion references the first film a lot (Jim’s online video, “the other MILF guy”).
But Hurwitz and Schlossberg’s movie lacks direction.
The first was about four guys trying to lose their virginity, the second about falling in love and the third focussed on Jim and Michelle’s wedding.
This time events just feel a bit random and pointless and no-one particularly develops from beginning to end.
Most of the cast are shortchanged. Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid (Vicky), Mena Suvari (Heather), Kaye Thomas (saddled with a forced new romance) and even the comedic brilliance of Hannigan are particularly wasted.
The main focus is on Jim, ‘Jim’s Dad’ (Eugene Levy), Stifler and Oz.
Events begin with traditional humiliation for Jim, which carries on throughout (squished manhood!), and the best scenes are shared between Biggs and Levy with more father/son sex talk, a hilarious sequence where Levy prepares for dating and touching moments when it’s revealed Jim’s mum passed away.
William Scott’s Stifler has, traditionally, been the series’ scene-stealer and he gets some fun lines again, although when someone says to Stifler “you are the same douche bag you were in high school”, it’s hard to disagree.
Stifler was showing signs of maturity at the end of the third film but that is dropped in favour of hijinks.
And what happened to January Jones’ Cadence, the girl he vigorously pursued in that movie? No clue.
American Reunion ends with the guys saying “till next time” but I hope that’s an empty promise.
The pie may be a bit stodgy this time but nostalgia for characters many of us got through our teenage years with and some genuine laughs keep it cooking along nicely.
Any more, though, and an upset stomach could be on the cards.
Rating – 6 out of 10.