High school reunions are not something I am in a rush to attend, but the fascination of meeting up with people you haven’t seen in at least a decade is irresistible. While you may be able to catch up with them on Facebook (assuming your friends from those years have a profile on it), meeting them face to face is far more appealing. That’s what makes “American Reunion” an entertaining prospect as we have known these characters since 1999, and it’s been awhile since we’ve last seen them. The question is, was it worth the wait? Well, not really.
Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) and his wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are now the parents of a two year old boy, but their sex life has become practically non-existent. Oz (Chris Klein) is now a famous sportscaster with a gorgeous but hopelessly dense girlfriend in Mia (Katrina Bowden). Kevin Myers (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has since gotten married and works from home as an architect, and Paul Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) boasts of his travels around the world. As for Steve Stifler (Seann William Scott), he works as a lowly temp at an investment firm but still lives for the party of a lifetime. That is, if he can get past his vindictive boss Prateek Duraiswamy (Vik Sahay) who berates Stifler any chance he gets.
But despite a handful of very funny moments, “American Reunion” doesn’t have enough of them to sustain a full length feature film. The characters are set adrift with not much in the way of a story to hold them all together. Also, the guys get far more attention than the female characters this time around. Granted, that was always the case but in the previous movies they were given a lot of attention as well and were made to be more than the typical high school babes. Here, many of them are relegated to a mere cameo which is frustrating.
In terms of laughs, you can always depend on Sean William Scott and Eugene Levy to deliver the goods as their iconic characters. Levy, who has been in all the “American Pie” movies including those direct-to-video ones, sees his character of Jim’s dad trying to move on after the death of his wife. It’s an interesting development which forces some wonderfully awkward moments on Levy as he gets up close and personal with Stifler’s Mom (the always reliable Jennifer Coolidge), and who gets his trademark eyebrows tweaked to where you can make a wig from them.
Be sure to stay through the end credits as Stifler’s Mom makes Noah’s day by giving him a whole new reason to appreciate going to the movies.
Scott all but stole “American Wedding,” and he pretty much does the same here as Stifler is the one who really hasn’t changed a bit since high school. As much as the other guys try to avoid him like the plague, Stifler always manages to sniff them out and he remains as horny as ever. There is an increased desperation in his efforts to get laid, and this is clearly shown when he expresses his love for the “Twilight” novels to high school girls. I don’t know, maybe it is a good pick up line. There’s only one way to find out though.
Biggs once again sees his character of Jim getting into ridiculously embarrassing situations like when he pleasures himself while watching a horny college student website. Of course, he gets interrupted by his son who thankfully doesn’t have any idea of what daddy is doing. Things get even more awkward when he meets up with Kara (Ali Cobrin), the girl he used to babysit who is now 18. She’s on a mission to lose her virginity, and she thinks Jim is the guy. The “American Pie” movies were comically shocking when they first came out, but this one feels all too tame in comparison.
Of the actresses, Alyson Hannigan gets the most screen time as her character of Michelle tries to find ways to spice up hers and Jim’s love life as what she used to do with that flute doesn’t make much of a substitute (not like a shower head anyway). Aside from that, Mena Suvari returns as Oz’s ex Heather merely as a way to advance his character so he can get back what he lost. She’s not given much to do here other than show off her thoughtless boyfriend Ron (Jay Harrington) who’s a heart surgeon. As for Shannon Elizabeth’s character of foreign exchange student Nadia, she has one of those blink and you’ve missed it cameos which is frustrating. Surely the writers could have given her more to do this time around!
Still, it’s nice to see people like Tara Reid and Natasha Lyonne here. Reid has been dragged through tabloid hell and back, and her character of Vicky is made to be thoughtful in a way her old boyfriend should have darn well realized from the start. As for Lyonne, she’s had her battles with drugs and alcohol which garnered the strangest headlines ever, but it’s great to see her here even if it’s only for a minute. She’s always been a clever actress, and we finally get reminded of that here.
Adam Herz who created these characters didn’t helm this sequel which was instead written and directed by Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg. These two were responsible for the “Harold & Kumar” movies, the original which I probably should have seen by now. The problem is that neither of them brings anything new to this franchise, and “American Reunion” ends up running on fumes as a result. As much as it would be nice to see how these characters have grown over the years, they are for the most part relegated to doing the same things that got them into trouble in the first place.
The problem with writing and directing a sequel like this is that everyone goes into it expecting that the audience will want the same of what they saw before. But there also has to be an opportunity for the filmmakers to bring something new to these characters and the material as we have all grown up with them. If they can’t bring anything fresh to a long running franchise, then what’s the point of making another sequel other than money?
I don’t know, maybe I just resent that these characters had all these experiences when they were younger and the fact that they look back at high school as the best of times. They really aren’t meant to be that, and seeing characters get nostalgic for that kind of past feels sad. The fact that their lives don’t measure up to what they once were doesn’t give us much to look forward to. Times are tough right now, but we can always remind ourselves that we’re no longer in high school. Believe me, I’d rather be paying bills than going through those years again.
* * out of * * * *
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