Mark Reviews Movies

AMERICAN REUNION

1 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Directors: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg

Cast: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Seann William Scott, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Mena Suvari, Tara Reid, Eugene Levy, Dania Ramirez, Katrina Bowden, Ali Cobrin

MPAA Rating: R (for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking)

Running Time: 1:54

Release Date: 4/6/12


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Review by Mark Dujsik | April 5, 2012

Yes, we might have a certain fondness for at least the first two movies in the American Pie franchise and maybe even some of the characters but definitely not this much fondness. American Reunion is pushing it.

As much as I hate to quote myself, I wrote of the possible end of the franchise with the third movie: "It'll be back once someone realizes they need to fall back on something financially viable..."  The time has clearly come for at least one person—but probably a few people (Let's be blunt in as neutral a way as possible: Most of the cast has not had much success outside of these movies)—involved in the series, because here's a movie that revolves around a 13-year high school reunion. There's a joke that the school forgot about the 10-year one. It's one of the sole funny moments in the movie but only because we can sense a sort of desperation to explain away the screenplay's own logical gap behind it.

The sad truth is that there's as much reason for American Reunion as there is for a 13-year high school reunion. The series has never been about the characters. The pie that our sexually frustrated hero uses as a masturbation tool was the selling point; the bumbling Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) never was and never will be. Does it matter much that he's grown up and become a husband and father? It certainly doesn't for him, as the movie finds Jim at the start still trying to get some one-on-one time with his genitalia without making a complete idiot of himself. He, again, fails miserably.

The opening gag, an attempt at self-pleasure that grows worse and worse as it progresses (The son walks in, the pornography on the laptop keeps playing, and the screen of said computer is perfectly aligned with Jim's manhood), is nothing new, even to this franchise. It really only serves the purpose of introducing the first in a series of conflicts that should be more easily remedied than director Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg's script insists: Jim and his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are having difficulty with their sex life after the birth of their son.

After stepping into the bathroom to take care of his unfortunate wound, Jim catches Michelle in the tub using the showerhead for her own pleasure. This, oddly enough (considering that his wife has walked in on him doing the same thing on multiple occasions—he even adjusts the mirror to keep on eye on the bathroom door), is the last straw. They decide to spend the weekend of their high school reunion resolving the issue.

We anticipate Jim's dad (Eugene Levy) to put a wrench in the works, but he's too busy mourning the death of his wife and still wanting to have sex talks with his son to do much harm. Instead, Jim tries to return a naked neighbor (Ali Cobrin) to her bed while his friends distract the girl's parents in what can be called the centerpiece sequence but only because of its placement in the movie.

The rest of the male characters (We must keep in mind that these movies have never seen their female characters as anything other than accessories) have their own introductions, in case we needed a reminder of how perfunctory they are. The now-married Kevin's (Thomas Ian Nicholas) quandary arrives in the form of Vicky (Tara Reid), his high school girlfriend and first love (The movie funniest moment is unintentional, as Vicky gets mad at Kevin for thinking she might have slept with him). Chris "Oz" Ostreicher (Chris Klein) works as a sports reporter and has a girlfriend named Mia (Katrina Bowden) who works as a model. Like Kevin, Oz' girlfriend from high school Heather (Mena Suvari) is in town, and seeing her brings up a lot of fond, old memories and feelings.

This leaves the only two characters who have unique personalities: the nerdy but confident Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and the quintessential party guy Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott). Finch's only job in the movie is to fall for the ugly-duckling-turned-swan Selena (Dania Ramirez). Stifler's dilemma—still trapped in a high-school mentality while everyone else has moved on (The characters' throughlines suggest otherwise)—has the most potential for honesty. His horror that a party he throws turns into a respectable cocktail hour is only outmatched by the realization that all his friends from his teenage years are now gay.

Hurwitz and Schlossberg's direction lacks rhythm in assembling this episodic gathering. There simply isn't much material to any of these stories, which certainly suits the absence of personality for the characters, and the extended denouement where old faces keep showing up while all the problems resolve themselves is a complete drag. By the end of American Reunion, the characters say they have survived their first reunion, implying there will be more of these movies. No, thank you.

Copyright © 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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