By Clint Morris
1999’s “American Pie” didn’t give us just a memorable scene with a pie, it gave us quite a few memorable movie moments – who can forget Jim and Nadia’s big moment on the webcam!?, as well as several iconic lines (“One Time at Band Camp..”) that have helped solidify the films legendary status.
More so, ”American Pie” gave us soon-to-be famous characters like ‘Stifler’ – a trash-talking juvenile punk with no clue how to treat a girl, and ‘Jim’s Dad’, a loving, family man who feels the need to offer wacky sex advice to his (Pie screwing) son.
Two sequels followed, and though they returned both the risqué humor and now recognizable cast, they skipped on the sweet undertone that played throughout the first film.
”American Reunion”, coming some thirteen years after the release of the original, manages to give us the entire original cast, as well as risque humor – along the lines of the Pie scene – but the question is, have writers Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg injected more sugar into this installment than the previous films encompassed?
The answer is yes.
”Reunion” has much more in common with the original than the previous sequels did – and all because it treated the characters as real world figures again, not quote-heavy cartoons. Once again, we somewhat care about Jim (Biggs) and friends – yes, even Stifler (Scott), who ends up rather lonely and messed-up when his offensive behavior and actions get too much for everyone. But this is an “American Pie” movie, so obviously emphasis is on sex and the silly, not a sympathetic storyline.
In a nutshell, it’s ten years later and the students of East Great Falls are reuniting for their high school reunion – Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle, now married; Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas); Vicky (Tara Reid); Oz (Chris Klein); Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas); Heather (Mena Suvari), and, of course, Steven ‘Stifler’ (Seann William Scott). Jim’s Dad (Eugene Levy), now widowed; Stifler’s mother (Jennifer Coolidge); the MILF guys (John Cho and Justin Isfield); Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth), and the Sherminator (Chris Owen) also make welcome appearances.
Returning home is somewhat of a rude awakening for the gang, especially now that they’re no longer of the young and fun variety, but are supposedly ‘grown ups’ (not to say the gang – well, Stifler, anyway – don’t get up to some unruly mischief).
Be it because of the advancements in technology or the abundance of nudity and violence on screen, today’s kids have seen it all – heck, even the ‘Pie’ scene in the original ”American Pie” likely plays tame to the 17-year-old of today, having grown up on the likes of HBO and Paris Hilton’s home videos. Therefore its no surprise to see that the filmmakers have ramped up the gross-out factor this time around. From human poop to full-frontal male nudity, this is a much more risqué film than the first ever was.
So its got the funny stuff, and it’s got some nice endearing moments concerning the core cast (and in particular, Biggs and Levy), but is it as good as the original?
No. And I don’t think anyone expected it to be. It’s no fault of the film, it’s just that ”American Pie” was a movie of its time – and like the other numerous movie sequels that have come years later, like say ”Die Hard 4.0”, they now have to also cater for a new generation – a generation with different tastes and needs and wants.
Though I doubt a couple of the jokes in this will even work on them (the Stifler-shitting-in-an-esky scene evokes nausea more so than laughter) the film has, besides it’s throwbacks and nods to classic lines and situations in the movie, been made for an evolving contemporary teen market. Its said today’s teen has seen (or had) more sex, heard more curse words, and done crazier things than most of us ’80s and ’90s teenagers did, as a consequence, ”American Reunion” reflects that – it’s much heavier on nudity, language and gross-out humor.
“Reunion” will, in other words, work best for today’s teenager, but it’s such a darn tasty slice of nostalgia and chunky laugh-meat that even us oldies won’t walk away disappointed.