April 4, 2012 by Vinnie Leduc
Nearly a full decade since the last slice of American Pie hit theaters comes the return of the billion dollar franchise in American Reunion. As the Reunion title indicates, that’s pretty much what the movie is because there’s little substance beyond the simple outline of “Hey, look who we managed to round up!” But American Reunion, a rare comedy that manages to get crazier and crazier, is nevertheless a hilarious romp, even if it banks very heavily on nostalgia.
Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who together wrote the entire Harold and Kumar series and directed Escape From Guantanamo Bay, shared writing and directing duties for American Reunion, so you know it’s in good hands. They’ve kept last generation’s trademark party series alive for the most part, but since what you might call a plot is so bare bones, they really milk the nostalgic factor repeatedly. Maybe they had to ring more than a few bells for us, some of whom have nearly doubled in age since the first American Pie became our Porky’s.
So let’s do a rundown of who they gathered back into (for most, if not all, of the following) their breakthrough and career-defining roles, including the half that regrettably skipped out on American Wedding. The first Wolfpack of the new millennium is complete again: Jason Biggs as Jim, Thomas Ian Nicholas as Kevin, Eddie Kaye Thomas as Finch, Chris Klein (who hasn’t been on the silver screen since the POS Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li) as Oz, and of course Seann William Scott as Stifler. Eugene Levy’s back as Jim’s dad, and so is Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler’s mom. Also returning are John Cho as the guy who cried “MILF” for the first time in cinematic history, Alyson Hannigan as Michelle, Mena Suvari as Heather, and what’s left of Tara Reid, who’s apparently still alive, as Vicky.
That’s it, you say? Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyonne, and Shermanator make appearances as well, and there’s still a couple of surprise cameos I won’t spoil here. Smokin’ hot new additions include Katrina Bowden from 30 Rock, Dania Ramirez from Entourage, and Ali Cobrin in a breakout role as Jim’s newly turned former jailbait. It’s nice to see Jay Harrington (Better Off Ted) in the mix, too.
American Reunion‘s customary embarrassing introduction is the weakest of the theatrical releases by far, and like the intro bit, some of the film’s stunts and gross-outs just aren’t funny or shocking anymore, especially by American Pie standards. However, there is one omg/wtf moment with male frontal nudity that despite my previous complaints about the topic, was actually funny and shocking. At least there was bountiful good ol’-fashioned female T&A to balance it out.
The film scratches the surface of commentary on the evolving high school scene, but it doesn’t do it nearly as well as 21 Jump Street did. Instead, it focuses on its main selling point, the novelty of nostalgia, and decently includes newer material here and there. Forget about the direct-to-video spin-offs; they’re really the worst offenders of franchise-milking. But don’t ignore American Reunion, a trip down memory lane that’s a must-see for fans of the franchise. Go ahead and party like it’s 1999. Oh, and make sure you stay for the mid-credits extra scene! American Reunion gets 3 out of 5 stars or B- or Good.