REVIEWS

Review: 'American Reunion' Proves the 'Pie' Series Never Changes

by
April 6, 2012

American Reunion Review

"Hi, my name is Jim, and I humped a pie once." "Hi, my name is Stifler, and I ingest disgusting things." "Hi, my name is Finch, and I had sex with Stifler's mom." The characters in American Reunion may as well write confessions on their name tags the jokes are so tired. It's all familiar, the same grotesque peaks and raunchy valley we've seen at least three times before, and, more than ever, these jokes define the characters. There's little else to offer. It's beyond what one finds funny. Comedy is the most subjective of art forms, but when something is as paint-by-numbers as American Reunion, even surface level entertainment has to be called into question.

It's not even a believable premise. The idea is that Jim Levenstein, played by Jason Biggs, and his former band nerd wife, Michelle, played by Alyson Hannigan, are heading back to Michigan for their 13th high school reunion. That's right - a 13-year reunion, and the "they overshot it by a couple of years" line is as much thought that went into filling that plot hole. Regardless, the reunion is approaching, Jim and Michelle, who are having some typical issues in the bedroom after the birth of their son, head back to their hometown, and the gang is all there. When I say gang, I don't mean characters that we know and love from the first three American Pie films. The gang that's all here is the suitcase of old jokes everyone keeps lugging around.

Stifler, played again by the unabashedly loud Seann William Scott, is still just as arrogant and destructive as he's always been. Eddie Kaye Thomas is back as Finch, who's mysterious time after high school is a surprisingly nice fit for the character even if he's only here to provide jokes about Stifler's mom. Thomas Ian Nicholas is back as Kevin who… well, we never really know much about Kevin, but this time around he's a domesticated trophy husband who still seems to be pining over his high school sweetheart, Vicky, played by Tara Reid. Chris Klein returns after an absence from American Wedding as Oz, the host of a sports show who appeared on a fictionalized version of "Dancing with the Stars". That subplot offers some fun sight gags.

That last bit proves that there's potential for something new, something we haven't seen at least three times before - I haven't seen any of the direct-to-DVD spinoffs of the American Pie franchise, but I'm guessing they include more of the same. Unfortunately the script, penned by Harold & Kumar alums Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, never wants to trek too far from its parents. Time after time American Reunion falls back to its comfort zone, having Stifler make some wildly inappropriate and usually sexist comment or showing Jim get caught in some outlandish scenario that no one will believe isn't his fault. When that doesn't work, or, God help them, when Hurwitz and Schlossberg don't seem interested in retreading old jokes, they have someone go over the events of the first films as if we haven't seen them for ourselves.

Tie every meaningful moment, every original joke, every instance of something fresh in American Reunion together, and you might have a 30-minute movie. That's being generous, too. Much of that only works thanks to Scott and the returning Eugene Levy as Jim's Dad, now a widower who's just thankful his son's family is visiting. It's Jim's Dad who has the most innovative of story arcs. Even though much of his time is spent giving Jim awkward advice, there's something to the character, an edge we haven't seen before. A small segment where Stifler and Jim's Dad are matching each other shot-for-shot at a party is the only guffaw moment in the whole film. Even seeing Jim's Dad and Stifler's Mom hanging out and possibly finding infatuation in each other is something new, and you want more of it.

You don't get it. Too often American Reunion takes what's worked before and attempts to run it into the ground. I say "attempt", because these jokes hit that proverbial ground years ago. The American Pie series is that graduate who refuses to learn, refuses to go out into the real world and find something new to do. In a lot of ways, the whole series is like Stifler who bides his time with the attitude he knows, and, just when you think he's learned the error of his ways, he sits himself down on a cooler and relieves himself. Fans of the series might laugh at the same jokes they've been chuckling with every time they see one of these films show up on cable, but even they have to recognize how little there is added in American Reunion.

The movie can't even draw out controversy with all the obvious T'nA flying around and objectification of women going on. American Reunion is that guy at the high school reunion who still thinks they've got it, still likes to cat call and grab asses when the moment arises. The first couple of times you roll your eyes, might even say something to him to keep him from doing it again. After awhile, though, it's best just to leave him standing in the corner to do as he pleases. You aren't going to change him. It's just best to ignore him.

Jeremy's Rating: 3 out of 10

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  • Ouch. Oh well, for all you know it might top the US box office this weekend. Unless a Titanic in 3D sinks it first!
    • bat0u
      The Raid just came out where I am today.....I'm gonna do my best to contribute to it getting to the top by seeing it again tomorrow, and maybe again on Sunday.
  • Mperrapato
    I saw it and the author of this article is an idiot. If you want to laugh and enjoy yourself go see it. It is just as good if not better than the original. Please do not take this article seriously it is written by someone who is very bitter.
    •  I stopped reading when you called him an idiot for having a different opinion than you. I mean, wtf, he actually gives you the right to your opinion in the beginning by stating the obvious fact that comedy is highly subjective. Go suck a bag of dicks, you ignorant douchebag.
      • Mperrapato
        blow me u idiot
        • Lebowski
           Hahaha, oh no, some guy on the internet disagreed with you! Cry about it harder you little girl.
      • ^Loser
        haha you got mad at him for calling the writer an idiot and you called him an ignorant douchebag. haha turd nugget.
    • Er Sameer
       This guy reviews Lars Von Trier I guess...he had no business seeing American Reunion!
      • Waffles
        I agree.  To each his own, but American Pie is a NOTORIOUSLY acquired taste with a very specific audience.  Fans love the main movies, if not the low budget 'sequels', because it reminds them that sometimes life is just idiotic antics with close friends.  Yes, 6 or 7 out of 10 fans probably are men in their 20's, but that's exactly who they are aiming for.  I don't watch American Pie to gain life lessons, I watch it to fondly recall drunken nights with my high school or college friends, the few hours a week when I wasn't swamped in homework or planning for the future. Incidentally, EW.com gave it a B, a website which has absolutely despised the recent American Pies.  So yes, you are free to dislike the movie, but I question also question if you were the right person to review it, and if you went into your viewing with the proper mindset.
    • Mperrapato, You seem to think you can come on this site and abuse people.  I get this has more to do with your new found internet anonymity bravery that comes from a probable and yet unfortunate recent release from prison than outright offence you took from the differing opinion of yours. I would suggest that you show some people here the respect they deserve including the people who keep this great site alive. When you call people "idiots" and tell them to "blow you", it only makes you look like some pre-teen adolescent douche-bag when you start cussing people out over a "review".  I am sure of my opinion, just as much as I am sure should your ADD not have kicked in by now, and you have moved onto Internet porn, or Angry birds by now, I can almost certainly expect another douche-bag response from you. Anyway Great review!
      • ^Bigger Loser
        you tried telling him to respect people and you then disrespected him, nice job!
  • Eliot_hall
    Bitter much? this guy needs to chill 
  • Gost
    3 eh ? this made me lol
  • People want it to be the same dude, that's why they're going... This is like someone reviewing a new AC/DC album and complaining of the lack of progression into new genres...
  • Tyban
    I loved it. Some good laughs.
  • spencdo
    Who played Finch's mom?
    • Jurassic_Max
      IMBD knows
  • HazedMind
    This movie was halarious, it delivered completely, i don't know what this guy expected? and it was made well too...
  • I'll rent it via Xbox Zune Marketplace in 4 months. Why not? It's either that or watch more political campaigns. 
    • Why not? Cuz the Zune Marketplace sucks and is over priced.
      • Bleh! It isn't that overpriced. I have more Microsoft points that I care to keep anyway. I use to play that game show they had on Xbox live and won a ton of points. I never used them for anything else, so now I rent movies on occasion, unless there's a new episode of Ghost Hunters! 😉
  • Milf guy #3
    I loved it. Laughed so hard so many times through the movie. Maybe the reviewer just needs that bland dark humor or something.
  • Not surprised but there was actually one American Pie DVD film that I found enjoyable and I think it was the last one. It had the charm of the first film with new characters that were actually likable and was far better than the previous 2 sequels in theaters of any of the DVD entries. I'm not shocked at all that the movie was stale. Seems like a horrible cash in. 
  • norm
    I can't stand these goddamned movies.
  • Igobyterry
    The thing that makes this movie work is the nostalgia of it. The people who originally watched the American pie series were these guys. Now they're in the same family situation. Maybe not as awkward, but its all relatable. Regardless, I laughed quite a bit at the film.
  • ouch that bad?!
  • Aero027
    I can see the reviewers point but I do disagree with the review for the most part.  I think the appeal of this film is the nostalgia.  Lets face it...no one is going to see this film because it's new and unique.  People are going to see it to relive something that was great at one point in their lives.  Here in lies the irony and benefit of this film.  These characters are doing the same thing...they're going back to relive something (high school) that was great for them and just like this film they realize the original experience is better than the memory, or reliving the experience. For me, I was a senior in high school when this movie came out so my life parallels these characters (minus the movie hyped up sex fetishes) and I was pretty excited to see this movie because while I can admit none of the films are great, they've at least been consistent and the characters have been able to hold their own through out the series.  For me it was nice to see them all together again and how their lives have turned out.  Sure the film wasn't fantastic, or nearly as funny as the original 3 (I'm not counting the straight to video crap)...but it had it's moments.   Think of this film like the Saved by the Bell reunion that didn't happen.  When I was growing up I thought that was a great show.  Now when i watch it I'm appalled by how cheesy it is....but if they ever did a reunion, I'd definitely watch it....not because it would be any good but because shows like Saved by the Bell and films like American Pie were part of my youth and there's an odd connection there...almost like an imaginary friend that you're ashamed to admit you had.   If American Pie was just another teen film in your life of movies than yeah this sequel may be a waste of time to you, but if the original film, and it's sequels were favorites back in the day...you'll enjoy reliving vicariously through these characters.
    • BooUrns
      How does one relive vicariously? i know living vicariously. no one needs to see 4 paragraphs of what someone thinks of a movie. The movie is great for all of us that were in HS at the time the first one came out, the third one wasnt great. This one was definitely up there with the first two of the series.
      • Aero027
        Reliving vicariously is a play on words because you would've lived vicariously through the characters during the first film, but once it's been reheated 3 times now...it's reliving something that was at one time great.   I'm sorry you don't like to read.  I know it's hard.  If they'll let me next time I'll try to put in some pictures...just for you.
        • Lebowski
           douche chills!
  • peloquin
    I loved it, I laughed quite a bit and thought it was worth seeing for the nostalgia alone.  I wouldn't call Jeremy an idiot, but I've never agreed with one of his reviews.  He has a very unique taste that doesn't match up with what most people look for in a film.
  • She Hulk
    Never thought the first one was funny, can't believe they keep making more.
  • I loved it, It was one of the best sequels ever made, as good if not better than the first (just the 1st). It might be the same old glorious gag's, but that didn't make my face hurt less after laughing my way through the movie.
  • It was good I also liked it. I think sometimes people forget to just have fun watching a movie instead of trying to critique it.  
  • Il Grande
    Get you're head out of you're arse.

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