Starring: Jason Biggs, Sean William Scott and Eugene Levy
I have always found the cuter, more sentimental side of the American Pie films to be their strongest (And the secret ingredient behind its success). This moment below from American Pie 2 is my favourite in the series, yet if you asked many what they remembered most from that entry, it would be Jim super-gluing his hand to his...reproductive organ.
There were so many interesting, new things they could have done with these now for the most part, boring, bland or annoying characters. Oz missed Jim’s wedding, why not have a bit of comedic tension between them because of that? Finch supposedly has gone on many adventures, which turn out to be lies, why not play on the fact that he has become a more pretentious version of Stifler a little more? Mind you, it probably would have taken effort to dream up of funny imaginative stories for Finch to have told to impress. This whole film is just so lazy when it comes to its story and characters that it is hard for me to drum up the energy required to give it the negative examination it deserves. Stifler’s boss is a character who sounds in urgent need of a rewrite (Or the cutting room floor) and the references to how times and behaviors have changed (Stifler saying, “cell phones weren’t invented when I last did this” and the child who Jim used to baby-sit calling the Spice Girls, classic rock) deserving more of a comedic focus than a scene in which a drunk, naked, eighteen year old girl, throwing herself at a middle aged man while he is driving (Hilarious or creepy? I’m going with the latter)
The subplots involving each character are so boring and uninteresting. Jim and Michelle aren’t having a lot of sex, big deal (This movie seems more obsessed with sex than the original, which was all about four teenagers trying to have sex, realization at the end being, there’s more to life than sex, despite all the characters still having it, there’s the American Pie balance for you...end of this movie? Sex...end of). Why not play up on Jim being a father more? Aside from one or two scenes, Jim having a kid has no significance on the character whatsoever. As somebody who prefers the more sentimental side of American Pie, I was hoping and looking forward to seeing Jim’s dad give Jim advice on being a father and as somebody who appreciates and enjoys most of the comedic side of the American Pie series, to see more comedic situations and set-pieces centered around Jim being a father, beyond him accidentally throwing a (lets say dirty) sock onto his son’s head and being spotted by his son carrying an intoxicated, naked, young girl.
Even the oldest comedic trick in the book when it comes to babies, pathetic guys like Stifler trying to use them to get girls, is unexplored in this film. It is what I just wrote which demonstrates that the guys behind this film (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) feel like those American Pie imitators who didn’t realize why American Pie wasn’t just successful but also critically respected, making one of those poor copycat movies...except this time it is an actual American Pie movie that is the poor imitation.
Also this film brings the character of the shermanator back and fails to mention Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines or Terminator Salvation (Talk about a missed opportunity). Although to be fair one of the few original and inventive parts of the film comes in the shermanator appearance, even if it does stink of shoehorning something in just for the sake of it being there, with no thought put behind why its there and what will happen when its there. For instance the character of Nadia literally pops up, says hello and leaves. Its as if they delivered the script and thought, “WAIT, WE NEED NADIA IN THIS” and just shoved her in somewhere just to tick a box. A more organic and better use of Nadia would be for her to be the one throwing herself at Jim and tempting him away from his wife, rather than an eighteen year old girl, clearly put in to appeal to my demographic, one the film shies away from insulting and criticizing even though it is another comedic possibility hinted at when Kevin says, “Were we just as obnoxious as these kids back in the day” any dig at my generation is a safe and lazy one, such as Stifler pretending to like the Twilight books.
The fact that Jim’s mum has died is something that is only put into the narrative so that they can get Eugene Levy drunk and high. It is rather sad when one of the comedic highlights of your film is a middle-aged man jumping out of a window.
The film’s gross out, crude humour is also now incredibly dated and obvious. The first American Pie shocked, that type of humour and slapstick wasn’t in mainstream comedy the way it is nowadays. Even the most watered down, test-screened, pedestrian romantic comedy nowadays has an American Pie-esque sexually based comedic set piece and foul-mouthed dialogue. For this series to come back all these years later and to have all of its comedy rely on such situations is not only a mark of laziness but also makes the film feel really predictable and oddly tame. Times have changed and this film like its characters doesn’t seem to realize that. Unlike the original American Pie, this isn’t changing a genre or providing a new type of comedy, this is just another, poor, U.S. sex comedy that happens to have an affiliation to American Pie.
When the, “emotion” does come, it is rushed and forced. There is nothing organic or natural about this film at all. Despite how crazy things got in the first three American Pie films there was always something relatable and real about the characters and situations, that is completely missing here. This may have to do with the fact that as a sixteen year old, I cannot relate to these middle aged men and do not feel the same sense of 90s nostalgia that others might while viewing the film. However even if I was the age of these characters, I still don’t believe I would care about their so-called troubles. I know the story is not something to look at or examine in an American Pie movie, but this film’s lack of laugh out loud moments left me with no choice.
Oz is such a boring character, I didn’t realize he wasn’t in American Wedding until I read it later (Having said that, that is one of the reasons why that movie also felt a little strange while watching it, in terms of being an American Pie film) and that is no different in American Reunion. Likewise the whole Kevin-Vicky storyline is just so...boring, unfunny, uninteresting, poorly written and poorly acted. Every moment the film focuses purely on one of those two characters and their terrible stories, the whole film crumbles apart. In fact this film is at its best, as have all the American Pie movies, when it is a group movie and all the guys are together. Oddly enough the relationship and friendship between these guys does not come through at all in this film. The clip from American Pie 2 I posted above is a group moment, with these characters the sum is better than the individual parts, yet American Reunion is a film which seems to focus on the individual parts...or more accurately, their body parts.
This is not a reunion; we don’t get to see these characters and group of friends that we love and relate to bond at all. Instead the film is desperate to get to its next nude moment or crude set piece. The relationship between the guys is merely an afterthought, shoved in as a plot device to get Stifler to the reunion. Speaking of Stifler, he is the funniest aspect of this film but even his character and that performance from Sean William Scott is like the film, so obvious and tired now. The two biggest crimes of this film was that it bored and uninterested me and...it didn’t make me laugh which is always the biggest crime when it comes to a comedy.
It’s as if the filmmakers were torn between attempting to replicate the teen vibe of the past yet with older characters and doing a story that is actually about older characters and how people change after high school. Instead they have tried to strike a mixture between the two and it really does not work.
All opportunities to be fresh, original and inventive are underdeveloped or ignored, all the humour is predictable, stale, lazy and lacks any of the bite, edge, imagination or wit of the original films, the performances are phoned in and the script lacks the touch of Adam Herz. This is a film I really wanted to like but it lacked laughs and heart, the two things that made American Pie the classic of its genre. The reunion of the MILF guys, the idea with Finch’s mum and the Shermanator POV shot were the film’s best and funniest moments...not good enough.
I feared this would be awkward and embarrassing, akin to Hall Pass with the, middle aged men trying to get younger girls plot device. However, even though Hall Pass was mediocre, it is much funnier than American Reunion. When I revisit the American Pie movies in the future, I’ll be skipping American Reunion, this just isn’t an American Pie movie to me. This film is one piece of pie, too many. Thirteen years on people will still watch, talk about and remember the original American Pie, however like the straight to DVD sequels, this will be a mere footnote.
(A harsher rating than I was originally going to give it but I guess I didn’t realize how bad this movie was until I started writing this review, hardcore American Pie fans may not agree with this widespread critical opinion now but, in the cold light of a few months or even weeks, they will)
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
Disagree with this review? (I know a lot of you will and I wish I could as well) give us your thoughts on American Reunion in the comments below.