Monday, April 9, 2012

American Reunion


Review by Bob Ignizio

Back in the eighties when the teen sex comedy first came into prominence, if you were going to make a sequel to one of these things, you basically just made the same movie over again. And you damn sure didn't let much time pass between your films (perfect example: PORKY'S II: THE NEXT DAY). The idea that you would actually follow your hormone crazed protagonists as they grow and mature through the course of 4 films over the span of 13 years would be unfathomable, but that's what the AMERICAN PIE series has done. And for the most part, it's done it surprisingly well.

AMERICAN REUNION is the latest installment in the franchise to get a theatrical release (there have been 4 direct to video sequels since 2003's AMERICAN WEDDING as well), revisiting the main characters from the first film in their early thirties. Jim (Jason Biggs) is still married to Michelle (Allison Hannigan), but they've had a hard time adjusting to parenthood. Oz (Chris Klein) is a successful sportscaster with a supermodel girlfriend, but the all the success can't make up for the emptiness of his life. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is a house husband and stay at home dad who misses spending time with the guys, Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has apparently become an international man of mystery and adventure, and Stiffler (Seann William Scott) hasn't really changed much, which hasn't exactly proven helpful in his attempts to climb the corporate ladder. Everyone comes back to their hometown for their 13th high school reunion, and as soon as the guys get together, the expected comedic misadventures ensue.

Although series creator Adam Herz, who wrote the first three films, is not involved in this latest installment, co-writers/directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (the HAROLD AND KUMAR series) do a good job of maintaining the tone and spirit of the franchise. The one thing that always made the AMERICAN PIE movies stand out was the genuinely well written characters and undercurrent of real emotion that runs through them. And while all the movies have their share of T&A, it's always been the guys who bear the brunt of the humiliation, a tradition which continues here in a scene where Biggs does his impression of pheasant under glass.

I don't think anyone would go into AMERICAN REUNION expecting a great film, and it's not. The freshness of the premise is long gone, and pretty much any given comedy these days out-raunches anything in the AMERICAN PIE oeuvre. But if you're like me and you've watched and enjoyed the other films in the series, you kind of care about these characters and want to see what happens to them, and on that front the film delivers. It also delivers a fair number of laughs, and as odd as it may seem to say this about a movie where a character takes a dump in a cooler full of beer, it does so in an appropriately more mature manner. Sure, it's kind of unnecessary and disposable, but I still enjoyed it. 3 out of 4 stars.

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