Director: Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg
Cast: Jason Biggs, Seann William Scott, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nichols, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Alyson Hannigan, Mena Suvari, Dania Ramirez, Tara Reid, Ali Cobrin, John Cho, Katrina Bowden and Eugene Levy
Plot: Kevin (Nichols) convinces his three best friends to return to East Falls for the high school reunion, where the gang begin to review their lives and plan their futures.
Maybe American Pie was a one-time thing. The original movie was, in my eyes, a comedic masterpiece, taking the teen comedy and elevating it to a cult status. In developing the characters, every character, not just the lead ones, we were given a familiar story that both entertained and wove its way into our hearts. However, while American Pie 2 is worth some merit, the rest of them failed to capture that same charm, divulging into what they had worked so hard to move away from. Perhaps it really was truly difficult to write up a successful follow-up to that beloved original film. And then American Reunion came along.
Put simply, this is the film we have been waiting for all these years. Taking the same tone from American Pie: The Wedding, Reunion feels like the trilogy conclusion that Wedding should have been. Replacing a wedding with a high school reunion, it follows the same themes of the hapless teenagers from the original films meeting up and realising that they are now in adulthood. Reunion’s strength over that film, other than a writing team that work their damn hardest to send American Pie off in style properly, is that a sensible amount of time had passed. Wedding happened too soon for us to miss the characters. With Reunion, as each of the old faces reappear, we realise how much we have missed each actor in character. Steve Stifler marching around his office workplace, joking and pissing off the staff, sets in stone why Seann William Scott will always be the best Stifler. Finch is just as bafflingly odd as you remember. It is also refreshing have Eugene Levy have an active part, rather than being forced into a story just because it feels uncomfortably mandatory. The writing team excel with this entry, knowing that, as well as a laugh-out loud comedy, what we really want to do is spend some time with these characters from our past. Each character represents a different side of maturity that perhaps seems familiar to the audience’s own lives and feels natural to the character. Jim and Alyson, now with a two year old son, are in a sexual rut and find themselves slipping out of love. Kevin, now married, finds old feelings for his first love resurface and is forced to cope with them. Oz’s encounter with Heather reminds him how far off the beaten track his life has become. And Stifler might have the most heart-breaking story of all. He is that one kid that never moved on, left questioning why his friends are settling down, when there is still a party to be had. While he fuels the fun side of the film, as the drama settles in, you are left realising how hollow the character has become, having nothing to look forward to outside of the parties. His character arc is deeper than it ever has been before and as we look at the character with a new light, he becomes the ideal example of why Reunion is smarter than most of the American Pie movies that came before.
It’s not just the character stuff that feels better as well. This is after all a comedy and if the jokes don’t land, we are left with a empty character piece that would feel like a sequel that is no longer sure how to compete in the comedy genre. However, American Reunion works very hard to make sure it leaves the spin-off movies in the zone of pale imitation. With a lot of the gags in the spin-off movies, they felt like ‘this’ll do’ moments, as if the writers got into a room and threw some scenes together like stepping stones, rather than narrative beats. Band Camp opened without the heart and Book of Love was so by-the-numbers, it was impossible to sink into the jokes. Reunion is back to the American Pie we want. And the truth is that the jokes are still as crass as ever. In the opening sequence, both Jim and Michelle sneak off to masturbate in a quiet moment, a gag that involves badly timed audio from a porn clip and a penis getting pulverised by a laptop screen. Later on, someone shits in a beer cooler and Jim gets into a punch-up dressed as a gimp. It isn’t as though the writers have backed off the more daring jokes and are aiming for maturity. That was never what we wanted. But now the jokes are timed well, are natural cadences of humour and are told by character we love. The middle of the film is an extended sequence where Jim ends up getting drunk with the girl he used to babysit and now has a crush on him, and needing to take her unconscious, naked body home without getting caught by the parents or his own wife. It is a gag that uses several side jokes to roll the humour into one boulder of a punch-line, feeling more like a reinvention of the films of old. It is another example that reinforces the strength of this movie, but, in truth, the rest of the film is just as holistically impressive. From the soundtrack that bridges the old with the new, the throwback gags to before (the MILF guys almost steal the show out of nowhere), and a side-plot with Jim’s Dad that is far more hard-hitting than any of his stints in the previous movies.
Final Verdict: Reunion unites the original cast and shows the rest of the American Pie movies, and the rest of the comedy genre as a whole, how it should be done.