John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

American Reunion

Genre: Comedy

Director: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Cast: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, Mena Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jennifer Coolidge, Eugene Levy, Natasha Lyonne, Shannon Elizabeth

MPAA-Rating: R

Release Date: April 6th, 2012

“Could this party get any lamer, pill ” Oz’s girlfriend asks late in the new comedy American Reunion. I know the feeling. From 1999 through 2003, the original American Pie trilogy offered up a serving of youthful hijinks and raunchy antics. Even American Wedding— which many critics disapproved of– was funny. As a high school student and a college freshman, I enjoyed watching this goofy but entertaining series.

But perhaps times have changed or I’ve changed but Reunion doesn’t measure up to its predecessors. We live in a Bridesmaids world and Reunion seems like an artifact of a time gone by.

The new comedy opens by presenting viewers with loud music, underwear on the floor and a rocking bed. But such things don’t mean what they usually do. These days, their room is simply a mess and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) is simply rocking their child in bed. Now, Michelle’s marriage to Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs) is in trouble and both of them  realize it.

But to distract their attention, the two have something more important to think about: a high-school reunion. More than ten years have passed without a proper reunion so the high school is planning a big thirteen-year gathering to celebrate the class of ‘99. Of course, this means that the rest of the cast will be coming into town.

And arrive they do. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) takes a break from watching reality shows about desperate housewives with his wife to return. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) rides in on a motorcycle, talking about his adventures around the world. Oz (Chris Klein), who wasn’t in this film’s predecessor American Wedding, even returns. He’s now a television sports analyst and a failed contestant on a celebrity dance competition. And of course, Stifler (Seann William Scott) has returned as crude and obnoxious as ever.

The problem with this film isn’t with any of its individual characters. They carried the original trilogy to box office success. The problem is with this film’s erstwhile humor. Many of the main jokes feel dated and unfunny. Even the opening scene feels forced and ends before it garners any actual laughs. It builds up a near-comedic scenerio that leads nowhere.

But aside from that, Stifler feels like a character past his prime. His obnoxiousness, which had its funny moments in the previous films, is tired here. How many times are we supposed to laugh at how crude and crass he can be? How many times should we guffaw when he acts like an idiot and engages in self-destructive behavior?

That isn’t to say that the movie doesn’t offer its share of laughs. Scenes involving a makeover of Jim’s Dad and a late-night attempt to return a party girl to her bed are extremely funny. But this movie never offers the youthful innocence of its predecessors

Reunion might– in fact– be a victim of a new normalcy involving raunchiness in today’s cinema. Looking over the original Hangover and Bridesmaids and the wealth of humor and set pieces those films featured, it’s hard to be pleased with the mediocrity of a lackluster offering like this.

It should be noted that Jennifer Coolidge and Eugene Levy are the highlights of this film playing Stifler‘s Mom and Jim Dad, respectively. These two comedic actors are great in their respective roles and show how much potential this movie had…and ultimately wasted

It should be noted that the screening I attended of this film was flawed because the soundtrack did not play throughout the story. I don’t think my impression of Reunion will change much with its addition but it’s likely more enjoyable to watch a scene at a dance when actual music is playing in the background. Just a thought.

Review by: John Hanlon