Movie Review: American Reunion
Thirteen years after American Pie, the characters return for a high-school reunion. The result is vulgar and clunky, although Seann William Scott is a scene-stealer as Stifler, and Eugene Levy has some nice squirmy moments. For fans of the original only.
Starring: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan and Seann William Scott
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Parental advisory: nudity, coarse language
Running time: 110 minutes
Rating: Two and a half stars out of five
The signature scene of the American Pie comedy franchise is a young man having carnal relations with something from the bakery department. It's no surprise, then, even as adults, its various heroes and bums - including confused Jim, the boy who memorably and inappropriately sampled a piece of his family's dessert - are obsessed with sex.
American Reunion, the second sequel, finds the cast all grown up and returning for their 13th high-school reunion, a strange anniversary, but one that fits right into the current trend of nostalgia, reboots and squeezing one more dab of toothpaste from a nearly empty tube, as it were. They all have jobs now, some of them are married, but age cannot wither, nor custom stale, the infinite variety of ways they try to get laid.
The result is vulgar and clunky, but it comes with the instant appeal of recognition. Like characters in a familiar sitcom, the American Pie people bask in the comic possibilities of old moves and remembered histories. Seann William Scott - whose performance as Stifler has become a bravura interpretation of horny vacuity - only has to grin mischievously under those close-set eyes, and the audience is carried away into a sort of low-brow glee. We know what he's thinking: He's the untrammelled id of the Great American Teenager.
Scott is a scene-stealer, along with Eugene Levy as Jim's father, who represents a very thin slice of the comic pie - the dad who delivers well-meaning but creepy sexual advice, often relating to the love life of your parents - but does it brilliantly. Watching Levy explain to Jim (Jason Biggs) that an erectile dysfunction problem can be cured with a well-placed thumb is a classic moment for anyone who goes to a movie hoping it will make him or her squirm.
But these are small treats in a film whose big set pieces include a scene where a character poops in a beer cooler. Some funny-because-they're-awful moments have a lot of awful and not much funny, and writer-directors Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (whose Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay had similar problems) frequently don't know the difference.
As for the story, Jim is married to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), but they rarely have sex, and Jim has become - or perhaps remains - a devoted masturbator. Oz (Chris Klein) is now a TV sports broadcaster mostly known for appearing on a celebrity dance show and losing to Gilbert Gottfried. Oz has a supermodel girlfriend, but still yearns for Heather (Mena Suvari). Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married, as well, but runs into Vicky (Tara Reid) at the reunion. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) - who, in the early films visited the exotic port of Stifler's Mom (Jennifer Coolidge) - has become a world traveller ("so, after my troubles in Beijing, I move to Dubai . . .")
In some way, they're all looking for love, at least, when they're not using a beer cooler as a toilet, but American Reunion illustrates this as an unbroken flow of masturbation gags, vulgar innuendo and silly sight gags. Jim is a devoted husband, but the movie throws him together with the sexy teenager next door (Ali Cobrin), strips her naked, and then watches with glee as he tries to sneak her back into her house without her parents finding out. It's a madcap sequence meant to build laughter, but it has no comic pace: Like much of the movie, it's just one unlikely thing after another.
American Reunion ends with everyone talking about what a great time they had - they're not alone; a preview audience cheered immoderately - and saying they'll have to get together again soon. Hide your baked goods.