|Film review: American Reunion|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Tuesday, 01 May 2012 08:26|
Directors: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Can you name all five male actors from the original American Pie movie? If so, then this film is for you.
Bringing back together Jim (Biggs), Stifler (Scott), Finch (Thomas), Oz (Klein) and, erm, the other one (Nicholas), it's a self-proclaimed return to the glory days of the franchise. You know, before American Pie Presents: The Book of Love, American Pie Presents: Band Camp and, erm, the other ones.
And it is better than that straight-to-DVD drivel. Not that it's saying much: burning your genitals in a scalding hot pie has already been proven to be more fun than American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile.
So what’s changed in the lives of our favourite former horny teenagers since 1999? Jim and Michelle are still together, but now they have a baby. Oz is a famous finalist from TV's Dancing with the Stars. Stiffler is an unpaid intern, Finch is a globe-trotting adventurer with a motorbike and Kevin is happily married with a beard.
But 10 minutes with the troupe makes it clear that these are still exactly the same characters we met 13 years ago. And that's the main problem with the film.
American Pie: Reunion is a film about nostalgia, but rather than let its characters develop or learn from their past, it mostly sees them regress. In places, it works well: an elaborate revenge scheme upon a group of cocky teenagers ("Did you just call yourself the Stifmeister? That's the lamest thing ever!") is amusing, while a smuggle-the-naked-babysitter-past-her-parents skit plays out superbly. "Can we use your phone to call AAA?" asks Stifler, innocently ringing their doorbell. "Don't you guy have cellphones?" comes the suspicious reply.
The script is at its best when playing upon differences between now and our protagonists' hormonal heyday, but while Reunion apes the structure of American Pie, it doesn't have the same emotional pay-off. It may sound daft but in 1999, the climax of four teenagers' quest to lose their virginity was a journey you could root for; here, the message seems to be that going back to the way things were is always a good thing. That and the fact that drunk young girls throwing themselves at older men is great - and, of course, totally wrong and all their fault.
And so we have the pairing off of old couples: Oz and Menu Suvari, Kevin and Tara Reid, Eugene Levy's left eyebrow and Eugene Levy's right eyebrow. Are they happier with their current partners than their high-school sweethearts from the first two movies? Take a wild guess.
It ultimately falls to Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler's Mum (still a knock-out) and Jim's Dad to bring any dramatic pathos - in their 15 minutes of screen time, they get more depth and laughs than the rest of the cast.
Still, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg cram in enough cameos to please the old fans. It's genuinely nice to see Jon Cho chant MILF one more time and the brief introduction of some old homosexual classmates is a smart move. But as grown men act like teenagers and any sense of a script is drowned in masturbation jokes, you can't help but think that most of the credit should go to the now-absent creator of the franchise, Adam Herz: he moved on from the past long ago.
American Regression more than American Reunion, this slice of pie is mostly reheated and stale. But Eugene Levy's eyebrows are as tasty as ever.