The first American Pie film holds a special place in my heart. Yes, it was gross and infantile, but it reached me at an age where I sympathized with the characters and their obsessions. The second film appealed less to me, but it still had some really funny jokes (if the combination of masturbation and superglue seems funny to you at least). I never saw the third film, about Jim and Michelle’s wedding, and the direct-to-dvd films that followed it. But now all the characters from the first film are back, in a reunion, about a reunion, called American Pie: Reunion (dir. Jon Hurwitz & Jayden Schlossberg).
And they may have grown older, they’ve hardly grown up. Jim and Michelle may be parents now, but they are still an awkwardly bumbling around couple of average-Joes. Oz is still the jock, Kevin is still boring (watching Desperate Housewives with his domineering wife is a weekly highlight) and Finch is still ‘mysterious’. Oh, and Stifler is still Stifler.
In a similar vein, actors such as Sean William Scott (Stiffler), Jason Biggs (Jim), Alyson Hannigan (Michelle) and Mena Suvari (Heather) once were prodigies of American comedy, and possibly indie cinema. Yet they have failed to develop in any new direction with their choice of roles.
All those things do not necessarily mean that American Pie: Reunion could not be funny. On the contrary, there are still some really good jokes. The pre-credits romantic ‘domestic accident’ involving Jim and Michelle is excruciatingly funny. As is a prolonged joke involving an undressed, drunk teenage girl-next-door. And there is even a character arch for Stifler, although without true character development.
The real problem for American Pie: Reunion is twofold. First of all there is the need to cram too much stuff in. Every character from the first two movies has to come back, even if it is only to get a cheer from the crowd. Personally, I like Jim’s Dad (who doesn’t?), but I could have done without Vicki, Nadia, Sherman and the MILF guys. The second problem is more severe. This is a film without urgency. We meet all these characters that we used to know again, and we see them get in and out of trouble, but there is nothing that needs to happen. In the first film, the boys set themselves a deadline: to get laid before high school graduation. That’s hardly casting the one ring into the mountain of doom, but there is something at stake. In this film, there’s nothing. Do you really think that Jim and Michelle’s problems might prove unsolvable? Of course not.
When the actual reunion takes place at the end of the film, you had almost forgotten that it was supposed to take place at all. And that tells you enough about the film: surely it is not a complete waste of time; there is some fun to be had here, but the general sense is: been there, done that, saw the wet t-shirt competition.