It’s been almost ten years since we last saw the main cast from the American Pie movies on the big screen together. But if you have fond memories of Jim, Michelle, Stifler, Finch, Oz, Kevin, Heather, Vicky, Jim’s Dad, and Stifler’s Mom, chances are pretty good you’ll enjoy this outing too. A lot of the jokes are a little too easy, and at some points the comedy feels less than organic, but overall it’s a solid comedy that gives us an opportunity to catch up with some lovable characters and have a few laughs.
I’ve seen each of the theatrical American Pie movies exactly one time, back when they were in theaters in ’99, ’01, and ’03 respectively. (Like most self-respecting people, I avoided the direct-to-DVD sequels.) This has never been one of my favorite franchises, but I’ve liked all the movies to a certain degree; I’ve always found them enjoyable while watching but ultimately forgettable in the long run. The same can be said for American Reunion, which sees the old gang get back together for their 13th high school reunion. (Pretty sure nobody attends a 13-year reunion, but I guess the filmmakers were in an odd no man’s land spot and just said, “screw it.”)
After the standard awkward sex pre-credits sequence, the first few minutes of the movie takes us on a whirlwind tour of what everyone’s been up to since we last saw them at Jim and Michelle’s wedding. Jim and Michelle are having some marriage problems (read: lack of sex) after the birth of their son; Stifler is the “office bitch” at a temp job; Oz is a mini-celebrity thanks to his work as an anchor on a SportsCenter-like show and his disastrous appearance on something similar to “Dancing with the Stars”; etc. There’s a good sense of pacing here that allows everyone their moment to shine (except for Tara Reid and Shannon Elizabeth, who are relegated to cameos), and even Jim’s Dad gets a larger storyline than in previous films that ends, predictably (and as seen in the trailers), with a love story involving Stifler’s Mom.
After a while, these movies get an almost incestuous feel to them because there are only so many permutations of relationships the main characters can have, but that’s not a huge complaint with the film – after all, I’d probably have been more disappointed if they just introduced random new characters and expected us to care about them the way we do about the familiar gang. And actually, there is an element of a younger generation introduced this time around. Kara (a girl Jim used to babysit for) throws herself at him on her 18th birthday, which results in the kind of awkward scenarios typical for this franchise, while Kara’s boyfriend AJ receives the wrath of Stifler after splashing the guys at the beach. But these are tiny characters that don’t have a very big part to play in the grand scheme of things; mostly, it’s about the people we’ve known for years and watching them navigate the complexities of dealing with the fact that they’re adults now and life will never be the same as it was in high school.
Writer/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg bring the same level of unexpected heart and emotion to this film as they did with their Harold & Kumar movies, another series ostensibly based on gross-out humor which has genuine themes of friendship and relationships running deep through its core. With a soundtrack filled with a mixed bag of 90s hits from Third Eye Blind (sweet) to The Spice Girls (boo), American Reunion is a safe but endearing comedy that might even make you want to see more of the gang after the credits roll. They leave it open for another sequel, so who knows? Perhaps we’ll see everyone together again one more time on the big screen. Until next time…