*** (out of 5)
April 6, 2012
Jason Biggs as JIM LEVENSTEIN
Alyson Hannigan as MICHELLE
Chris Klein as OZ
Thomas Ian Nicholas as KEVIN
Tara Reid as VICKY
Seann William Scott as STEVE STIFLER
Mena Suvari as HEATHER
Eddie Kaye Thomas as FINCH
Eugene Levy as JIM’S DAD
Directed by: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
On one hand, “American Reunion” is really nothing special. Sure, it has quite a few laughs in it, but it’s not nearly as fresh as the original “American Pie” from 1999, nor is it particularly memorable. Probably the most notable thing about the movie is that it features the entire main cast – and almost all key supporting roles – returning for the theatrical reunion. And that’s more than “American Wedding” could boast back in 2003.
But on the other hand, “American Reunion” is pretty impressive. It’s been almost a full decade since the last installment (if you don’t count any of the direct-to-DVD movies, and I don’t since none of them feature the leads from the theatrical series). There’s the return of the main stable actors, and it’s the fourth film a series.
Comparably, “American Reunion” is a triumph by just being mediocre. After all, by the fourth film in a non-planned franchise (as opposed to ongoing series like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight”), most installments get downright awful. Cases in point include “Batman & Robin,” “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace,” “Leprechaun 4: In Space,” “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol” and “3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain.”
“American Reunion” is at least reminiscent of the first film, and it’s actually better than the previous films (far better than the poor excuse known as “American Pie 2” and a bit more cohesive than “American Wedding”). The story follows the former high school buddies getting together for their 13th high school reunion. The main focus is on Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hangman), whose marriage has stagnated after having a child.
Some of the returning cast really clicks back to their old form, in particular Biggs, Hannigan, Eddie Kaye Thomas and Seann William Scott. Others, like Thomas Ian Nicholas and Chris Klein, seem to be collecting paychecks but still manage to be mildly funny.
Still, the film suffers from bringing so many characters back. It works with some, like John Cho as the hilariously-named “MILF Guy #2,” mainly because Cho has a career bigger than any of his co-stars. It doesn’t work with others, like Tara Reid who literally stumbles into her scenes and barely delivers coherent dialogue. Similarly, Mena Suvari shows up but is so peripheral to the rest of the movie that it’s hard to count her as anything more than a cameo.
So “American Reunion” has plenty of problems, from a needlessly convoluted script to forced scenes of awkward physical comedy that don’t work. But it also has some damn funny moments. It’s not a great movie, but I found myself laughing quite a bit during it.
Still, those funny moments almost always were a result of something Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy) or Stifler (Scott) did. Throw Jennifer Coolidge into the mix as the MILFilicous Stifler’s Mom, and you’ve got the real reason “American Reunion” is funny. Take those three out of the mix, and the film would be a horrible dud.
“American Reunion” is exactly what the trailers lead you to believe it is. If you’re not into these films, and you don’t find body humor any funnier on 30-year-olds than you did on teenagers, you’ll hate this. But if you enjoyed the other movies and are looking forward to raunchy humor with plenty of boobs (and yes, the boobs are awesome in this film), you’ll have a good time.
I don’t know how much longer these “American Pie” movies will last. Considering the failed careers of most of the actors involved, they could continue the trend with “American Prostate Exam” and “American Viagra” for years to come.