Reunion time for ‘American Pie’ Getting ‘Pie’-eyed at ‘Reunion’
For anyone wondering where actors like Jason Biggs, Mena Suvari, Chris Klein, and Tara Reid have been hiding, this third “American Pie” sequel is like lifting a rock and discovering they’ve just been pretty much waiting for this. “American Reunion” is the first of these movies in nine years (ignoring the straight-to-DVD spinoffs), and it’s a sign of its desperation to exist that the high school reunion in the title is the “big 13th.” Perhaps, the thinking was that had the filmmakers waited for 15 or 20 no one would care. But just to be clear: 13 is how many years have passed since the first film. It’s also a number that’s such bad news that elevators skip it all together.
Nonetheless, “American Reunion” is a prematurely disinterred time capsule that enlists the cast of the previous films to reconvene in their Southern California hamlet for adventures in horniness. Imagine cartons of expired milk drinking and ogling and falling down. The characters are now in their 30s. But that number no longer has any real cultural meaning (there are lots of 30-year-old teenagers). Alyson Hannigan, who’s 38, has played Michelle — the dirty, nerdy flutist – in every movie, and looks as if she could still be on her way to band camp.
But Michelle and Jim (Jason Biggs), who once were terminally horny, now have a son, which means any sex they have they have solo. The movie tries two or three times to rekindle whatever was once special or fun in seeing Biggs humiliated in behalf of Jim’s hormones and culminates with him on a lawn in S&M attire. All it did rekindle for me were grim memories of Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Aykroyd in “Exit to Eden.”
In other news, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) is married. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) rides a motorcycle and wears a scarf. Oz (Klein) is a TV celebrity. And Stifler (Seann William Scott) is the only reason to considering enduring any of this. The character began the series as an amusing sideshow – this wild, walking one-man party – but wound up as the centerpiece of the sequels.
His eventual prominence might have had something to do with the writing, which for “American Reunion” has shrunk to nothing. But, really, it’s that Scott’s vulgar relentlessness remains funny. He should be tired of having to scrunch his face and exclaim obscenities. Yet, when given the opportunity, say, to defecate into a cooler while chugging a beer or expressing implosive bafflement over the pending nuptials of two gay lacrosse buddies, Scott does so with gusto. Not even a T-shirt Stifler wears that reads “orgasm donor” upstages Scott.
He’s not the only comedian here. John Cho isn’t bad as a creepy voyeur. Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge have two good scenes together as Jim’s dad and Stifler’s mom. (One scene, with a bobbing tub of popcorn, occurs during the closing credits; I’m not saying to stick around, but it’s well done.) They and Scott don’t elevate the movie so much as dash some seasoning that momentarily dispels the blandness. Additional old cast members – Shannon Elizabeth! Natasha Lyonne! – are carted out in a way that confirms only that they’re still alive.
The same cannot be said for the movie. That’s a shame since the writer-directors, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, have either written or directed three smart, sharp “Harold & Kumar” comedies. Their sweet spot is farce, which they don’t even try for here. “American Reunion” runs on misunderstandings, breakups, and makeups, many of which are simply remembered or recycled from the original movie. The directors don’t know how to make this new plot funny or infectious. Most promises of comedic pleasure go as unfulfilled Stifler’s T-shirt. This movie hasn’t a clue where to begin the donation process.
Wesley Morris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.