Do you remember your first piece of the Pie? It’s been 13 years since the original American Pie burst into theaters back in 1999. It should come as no surprise that when the film was over this ragtag group of 19-year-old friends wound up dining at Hooter’s. I probably mostly remember this from my case of wing-based food poisoning, but I digress. After witnessing back then what would become somewhat of a cinematic institution in its own right, 13 years later, two sequels, and four direct-to-video spin-offs later, the original cast members finally return for American Reunion.
Have the years been kind since we last bore witness to the crew’s bodily function-filled shenanigans? A little bit yes, but sadly, mostly no. Universal’s decision to bring in the creator’s of Harold and Kumar (Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg) to write and direct, could make you think they were trying to breathe new life into the series after all these years. But all they’ve wound up doing is run things further into the ground. Packed to the gills with enough fart, dick, and tit jokes to make a sailor blush, it’s up to the cast to bring the goods. Some of them are thankfully up to the task, while others prove they were the weakest links to no one’s surprise.
So what has the East Great Falls High crew been up to since we last saw Jim and Michelle get hitched? Not much. But alas, that’s how life goes. Everyone has their own lives now of course. Jim and Michelle have a baby and a lackluster sex life. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married and essentially has become a househusband (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Oz (Chris Klein) is a sportscaster making a fool out of himself in front of the likes of Chad Ochocinco, while dating Mia (Katrina Bowden). And Stifler (Seann William Scott) has an office temp job against his best interest because his mom (Jennifer Coolidge) demanded it. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is out to earn himself the title of “the most interesting man in the world,” and it turns out that Vicky (Tara Reid) is still single, while Heather (Mena Suvari) is dating cardiologist Dr. Ron (Jay Harrington).
The crew arrives back home with Jim and Michelle shacking up at Jim’s Dad’s house. Upon arrival, Jim runs into neighbor Kara (Ali Cobrin) whom he used to babysit and has now gone from a Teletubby watching little girl to full blown hottie. And just wouldn’t you know it, tomorrow is her eighteenth birthday and really really wants Jim to come. (Get it? Yes, double entendres still rule the day.) When the boys get together at a bar, Stifler rejoins as the force of nature he is and they also run into one of Michelle’s former band friends, Selena (Dania Ramirez), who also used to not be the looker she’s turned into now. So alas, the age old drama of one gross out gag to the next piles up as they all prep themselves for the big reunion, with their fair share of relationship “ups and downs” along the way as the film has moments that aim for the heart but usually wind up ending with a fart.
Why Hurwitz and Schlossberg think so much time needs to be spent on the likes of the film’s two lamest couples, Oz and Heather, and Kevin and Vicky, is beyond me. Not only are the couples the worst part of the film, the actors also showing that their acting abilities have far from improved. The film’s best parts, as usual, revolve around whatever is coming out of Stifler’s mouth and the now-widowed Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy, scene stealer at large). While Biggs slips right back into his renowned “pie fucker” role, Hannigan seems to be more in How I Met Your Mother mode than she is at being Michelle. While she used to be all perky and doe eyed, here she plays the sexually frustrated mother role too straight. Her “one time at band camp” days are long gone. Thankfully, Levy is par for the course and just about saves the movie. He also gets a great pay-off scene during the end credits.
When Scream 4 came out last year, it was ridiculed with most people claiming it had no idea what it wanted to be. Was it a remake? A reboot? Another sequel? When the answer wound up being all of the above, it was strictly the fan base who got what Wes Craven and crew were up to, but that meant it wound up faring less than killer at the box office. While American Reunion is strictly another sequel to come down the franchise pipeline, its looking like the pie may be getting a bit stale. Things are strictly by-the-numbers here and the Rube Goldberg gross out set pieces never really go for broke the way they should when it’s been so long since the last installment.
Hurwitz and Schlossberg’s best films are the two they didn’t direct themselves (the first and third Harold and Kumars). The duo may know their way around a great one-liner, but they have a long way to go on catching up with their visual jokes. It doesn’t help that Daryn Okada’s cinematography has a hazy slightly soft look to it, probably to keep the cast’s years under wraps, but it just winds up giving the film its own direct-to-video look. And everything looks way more like soundstages now than ever before. At one point Michelle says to Jim, “We’re so out of sync. I don’t know how long we can go on like this,” and she may as well be talking about the film. So while it may be miles ahead of those dreadful spin-offs, hopefully American Reunion heeds its own advice to hit it and quit it.
Photos courtesy Universal Pictures