Film: “American Reunion”
Release Date: April 6
Location: Area Theaters
For the last 15-odd years, Hollywood has thoroughly hammered the teen flick into the American cultural-conscious one coming-of-age dilemma at a time. The releases almost always prove to be a commercial success, but there haven’t been many franchises quite as persistent as the “American Pie” saga.
In “American Reunion,” the fourth installment (eighth if you include the spin-offs), the original cast convenes for the first time in nine years for their 13-year high school reunion (why 13? It’s never explained). With “Harold and Kumar” writer-director duo Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg at the helm, the characters, now in their 30s, find themselves at another crossroads — forced to confront the professional and personal hurdles that come with adulthood while still grappling with their all-but-forgotten past.
Whether they admit it or not, everyone in the reunion has their qualms: Jim and Michelle’s marriage hits a rough patch after having kids interferes with their sex life. Stifler, still married to his high school glory days, hits a new low as an office temp living with his mom. Even the reliably handsome Oz, now a second-rate sports broadcaster, finds himself revaluating his motives and relationship with his Los Angeles party girlfriend, played by actress Katrina Bowden.
Obviously the film isn’t just a bunch of existential gloom and doom. It’s plenty fun and rife with all kinds of turn-of-the-century nostalgia that includes a soundtrack brimming with late-nineties, early-ought’s radio rock has-beens (Third Eye Blind and Semisonic). Like the previous installments, Jim’s interactions with his dependably awkward father (Eugene Levy) deliver the most thoroughly hilarious dialogue. But callbacks to band-camp smut and Jim’s webcam fiasco are more parenthetical than centerpiece, as the film handily avoids getting bogged down in the franchise’s classic gags.
Call it cynicism, but it’s a bit surprising that the franchise is still capable of delivering the goods considering it’s been treated more as a cash cow in recent years. Perhaps much of its lasting appeal can be attributed to the quality of its characters, each one distinct and charming in their own way. Like any other teen flick, “American Reunion” delivers the occasional dud, sometimes opting for cheap and crude toilet humor and hackneyed puns. But whether or not it makes you cringe, it wouldn’t exactly be an “American Pie” film without these elements.
Oh, and yes, there are boobs, too.
There’s nothing remarkably original or profound about “American Reunion.” But it succeeds in capturing the spirit of the original while at the same time revealing the sorrow that comes with lost youth. It might be the last piece of the pie, but at least this tastes almost as good as the first.
3 stars out of 4 stars
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