With Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Eugene Levy. Written and directed by Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg. Rated R (for crude and sexual content throughout, nudity, language, brief drug use and teen drinking). 113 minutes.
It’s been thirteen years since those wacky teenagers from “American Pie” (1999) graduated from high school, so it must be time for their reunion. No, that makes no sense, but when did this series about boys acting out while chasing after luscious young women ever make sense? These movies were always about crude jokes, out-of-control libidos, and a hope that at least a few of the characters would learn a heartwarming lesson by the end of the movie.
For AMERICAN REUNION, they’re back and hitting 30, and life has handed them a few surprises. Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) have gotten married and have a young son, but their sex life seems to have disappeared. Stifler (Seann William Scott) is as much of a horndog as ever, but hasn’t made much of his life. Oz (Chris Klein) is involved with someone new but seeing Vicky (Mena Suvari) again stirs up old feelings. Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy) is now a widower, and seems to be meeting Stifler’s mom (Jennifer Coolidge) for the first time. In fact, the whole cast is back, plus Kara (Ali Cobrin), the little girl for whom Jim use to babysit. She’s now turning 18 and hot for Jim.
You can pretty figure out which way the stories are going to go, if not the details, and that’s what fans of the series are expecting: a reunion with their old movie friends. Oddly, it seems to work. It starts off with the smirking sex jokes, but the writing/directing team of Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg seem to get that – except for Stifler – these characters can’t act the same way at 30 that they did at 18. That adds just a touch of poignancy to the movie. It’s not maudlin, but it is enough so that by film’s end we’ve come to a new appreciation of the characters. The hint of another sequel down the road isn’t as frightening a prospect as it might have been.
What is frightening is how many of the people in big and small roles in the film seem to have vanished from public view, working either behind the scenes or in television. Seeing on-screen cast members like Eddie Kaye Finch, Tara Reid, Natasha Lyonne, Thomas Ian Nicholas, and Shannon Elizabeth, among others, seem like a blast from the past. For most of the cast, this is a return to the big screen in a movie that people are likely to see, and time seems to have treated most of them well. That may well be why they were all willing to come back to the franchise after the decade since the last film (not including the direct-to-DVD “American Pie Presents” movies that Eugene Levy seems to have done only for the paycheck).
With the flashes of nudity, jokes about masturbation and oral sex, and a scene with Stifler relieving his bowels where it will do the most harm to some bullies, no one will accuse “American Reunion” of subtlety or good taste. People coming into this having seen the three earlier films should know what to expect. Those who haven’t might want to take a look at one of them on DVD or Blu-ray to make sure this is what they want. For those who do want it, this is one “Reunion” that will make you feel good instead of just feeling old.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.