Not only do Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have the pleasure of seeing Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle turn into a very successful three-film franchise, but now they get to have a hand in a different series of films, something that had a great impact on them when they were first kicking off their career, American Pie.
After a nine-year hiatus, the whole gang is back to celebrate their high school reunion and Hurwitz and Schlossberg are behind the wheel dictating the action. Similarly to what they just did with A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, American Reunion finds its roots in the idea of seeing where these high school stereotypes wind up when they’re in their 30s.
While celebrating the release of Harold & Kumar round three, Hurwitz and Schlossberg took the time to talk a bit about American Reunion, how they got the gig, how they worked on that and Harold & Kumar simultaneously and more. Check it all out for yourself below.
How’d this come about for you guys?
Jon Hurwitz: It was a really interesting situation. We were a couple months away from pre-production on Harold & Kumar 3 and Hayden and I were going to be directing the film when we got a call from Universal asking us if we had interest in writing and directing a re-launch of the American Pie franchise, a high school reunion movie. For Hayden and I, that first American Pie was a really special movie for us. At the time, when that came out, we were college students and we had written a screenplay together, and our goal at that time in the past was to be the first R-rated youth comedy where young people felt like young people and there were big laughs and there was heart and all this stuff, and then we see the trailer for American Pie and we’re like, ‘Somebody made our movie!’ It was a bittersweet experience, bitter because we weren’t the first, but sweet because we just loved that movie so much that we saw it a million times. We fell in love with those characters and when given the opportunity to figure out where Jim, where Stifler, where Oz, where each of these characters are in their early 30s, it was just too cool an opportunity to pass up, so we met with the studio there, told them our ideas, got that opportunity and then we felt confident in the Harold & Kumar team and our ability to stay involved. We stayed involved as co-producers on Harold & Kumar. We wrote throughout the movie, during the post-process we continued to work on the film and help shape it, all while preparing for American Reunion. We’ve really had an exciting last year of being able to try a few different things.
Did you ever notice ideas from one bleeding into the other?
Hurwitz: At times. The truth is, Hayden and I sometimes draw from our own personal lives, sort of where we are in life, and the Harold and Kumar characters and the characters in American Reunion are in a similar general time frame of life, so at times you see some overlap and you’re always trying to find the unique spin. Luckily there are different characters that you’re able to tailor it to.
Hayden Schlossberg: The one similarity in both is our outrageous comedy with toddlers. [Laughs] I think that, like Jon said, because they’re characters in their 30s, some of them have kids and you have that phase of life in an R-rating, there’s going to be some similarities. But it’s such a different movie in a lot of ways, American Reunion to Harold & Kumar, just in terms of how far we’re willing to go in terms of playing with reality. The comedy in the Harold & Kumar movies, part of the fun is that it can come from anywhere and be any type of comedy. You can have racial comedy, you can have smart comedy, you can have really silly comedy.
Hurwitz: You can have surreal trippy comedy whereas American Reunion, it’s all coming from a grounded place of character and story and relatability. It was a different exercise, but one that we enjoyed just as much.
How about comparing American Reunion to the other films in the American Pie franchise? The beauty of a franchise is bringing back something audiences have come to love, but what is it about this one that’ll make it stand out?
Schlossberg: I think that the first American Pie was successful not just because it had comedy and heart, but also because it had really relatable characters. That first movie was a true ensemble and showed a lot of different types of iconic high school American characters. What we’re doing with American Reunion is taking those same characters that everyone loves, but not breaking what’s working with them, and we’re trying to find new things in their lives, in their 30s, that we can relate to. There’s the guy in high school who’s the jock and throws all the parties, but in your 30s, he’s the guy that used to be that guy.
Hurwitz: We knew Stifler way back when, when he was the coolest guy in high school, today we see him as the guy who peeked in high school and you get to catch up on his life there. It was just sort of finding fun new ways to make those original characters relatable again and, because the characters are older, the issues that they’re dealing with are, at times, a little bit more mature and, at points, a little bit more serious.