Title: American Reunion
Director: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
The fourth theatrical installment in the American Pie franchise is comparable to how the main characters view Steven Stifler within the story: there isn’t a lot of substance going on, but somehow, you’re glad he’s always around.
American Reunion is a story that survives on the spaced-out shenanigans. The convenient plot is just a loose framework to bring everyone back together. As the opening montage briefly brings the audience up-to-speed on Jim (Jason Biggs) & Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), Oz (Chris Klein), Stifler (Seann William Scott), and Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) – now in their early thirties; this ends up being the bland part of the 113 minutes. But right on cue, the script lets Stifler loose and things pick up right where they left off. Kind of.
Everyone is coming back to where it all started for their high school reunion. Since no one decided to attend the 10-year mark, the class of 1999 pulled it together thanks to the man who bestowed upon us one of the greatest terms in the English lexicon, MILF Guy (John Cho). Of course, Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge – who looks to gain weight as the movie presses on (for a minute I thought I was in Jabba the Hut’s palace) – reprise their roles as Jim’s Dad and Stifler’s Mom respectively. Mena Suvari and Tara Reid also stroll back into the crew, and a few other memorable characters from franchise also make appearances, along with a sprightful newbie in Ali Corbin – who bares her tits to go legit. Just as everyone looked up Shannon Elizabeth after the first installment, young Ali’s body should be trending on some social networking site during opening weekend.
There are two elements that initiate a little head-scratching as this unfolds. For whatever reason, the writers disregarded some of the backstory and/or plot points established in the previous two sequels. The guys’ friendship for example is a borderline continuity mess. An example is how Stifler and Finch interact with each other. Both guys evolved and established traits in parts 2 & 3, yet it’s as if this flick is essentially the first sequel since the original. The guys are seemingly reprogramed in certain respects. It doesn’t ruin the movie, but it does become annoying to see over-and-over again. Now the second element are the storylines some of the characters are given. Tara Reid’s for instance, is just to look hot (and not have a breakdown). Eugene Levy is put in a position where he’s essentially neutered the entire time save for one house party sequence at Stifler’s pad. Levy and Jason Biggs are placed in a nonsensical plot point that mirrors the lyrics of the “Cat’s in the Cradle” tune for some reason. And then there’s Finch, a character that fans look forward to watching as more sequels came out, is now just relegated to filling space.
Granted this script encompasses a huge cast and its cool the filmmakers are trying to get everyone ample screen time; but let’s face it, this franchise has always survived and/or gotten by on the shock-value of the skits. And good portion of that translates to Stifler time. Seann William Scott has a dud moment here and there, mainly due to the jagged screenplay, yet once again, the guy easily derives the biggest laughs. The first stunt involving jet skis tops any prank seen in the previous three flicks.
In a surprise (mainly because I can’t forget his performance in Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li), Chris Klein’s return actually anchors this cliff-note script and provides it with the only substantial angle. His mature performance was enjoyable and one wishes they would have spent more time on him rather than the predictable Jim and Michelle angle.
Though technically sloppy in a few areas, the one thing this franchise always nails, well, besides inanimate objects, is the soundtrack placement. Great song selections are weaved in at all right moments, which conjure up the unique reaction this franchise has been able to project out; especially if you’re the generation that evolved with this timeline.
Overall, American Reunion is a decent party with a few highs (literally and figuratively) and few dead-air type segments. All the raunchiness is still present yet it just doesn’t feel as creative as it did ten years ago. Actually, some of the wild antics felt forced in. That being said, this is worth venturing into and having some laughs with some “old friends.”
By the way, a fun game to play is watching the extras (background actors) stare at the cast. And apparently, all the extras are models.